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The Benefits of Barrel Steaming

As many of you know, Vinmetrica shares a warehouse space with our sister company Little Oaks Winery. After years of private winemaking, our president Rich decided it was time to turn his garage operation into a business. We have grown from a one barrel, garage operation to a small winery producing about 350 cases a year.

Our winery has anywhere between 18-24 barrels at once and we were looking for a more efficient and cost effective way to clean our barrels and tanks after bottling. We followed all the usual methods and found that we were either using up too much water, potentially adding odd flavors to our barrels from the use of harsh chemicals, and we weren’t exactly sure if our barrels were getting clean. It dawned on us that we needed to find a better solution, and fast. We eventually determined that barrel steaming was the best way to go.

So what are the benefits of barrel steaming?

  1. While steaming the barrels, the internal temperature will reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, enough to effectively inhibit growth of pathogenic yeasts, bacteria and fungi. This process can remove such wine pathogens as Brettanomyces, pediococcus, lactobacilli, acetobacter, and others. It also allows for the thorough removal of tartrates that may be stuck to the walls of the barrel.
  2. Using a dry steam system, the hot vapors travel through the wood much quicker than water and can reach deep into the pores or any areas that might be harboring unwanted pathogens.
  3. The barrel steamer is efficient – using only a fraction of the water of the traditional cleaning methods. Once the steamer is set up and turned on it only takes a few minutes to clean your barrel or tank. The barrel is steamed, we close the barrel and let it sit for a few more minutes and then we spin the barrel and dump the rinsate. It is seriously amazing what comes out of the barrel after steaming.

If the price for your own barrel steamer is a bit too much, Vinmetrica offers a barrel steaming service.

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You will love your fresh clean barrels!

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