The Importance of Fermentation Containers in the Winemaking Process
Depending on where and how they were made, oak barrels
will impart certain characteristics into wine. Oak has an affinity for certain varietals, but new barrels are very expensive. Most oak barrels used in California are either from France or America.
The major benefit of stainless steel tanks is controlling the fermentation temperature. They are also easy to sterilize and fit with additional equipment. Stainless steel tanks are used when the winemaker wants to retain the grapes’ natural characteristics.
Either out of preference or necessity, some wineries use large wooden vats for fermentation. Though more difficult to control their temperature than metal, the small amount of oxygen that seeps through the wood is thought to be beneficial by many winemakers. They are also less expensive than stainless steel tanks.
Although they were once much more widespread, many California wineries still use concrete tanks for fermentation. Concrete is very inexpensive and can be line with other materials to help prevent corrosion and to make sterilization more effective.
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