Friday, November 5, 2010

Visit to a Contract Winery

A couple of days ago I took a quick trip to Napa to visit a friend's contract winery. John Wilkinson is the managing partner at Bin to Bottle, a large operation that makes wines for a bunch of super premium brands in Northern California. When I last saw John two years ago, he was putting the finishing touches on his barrel room:

Bin to Bottle's [relatively] new barrel room.  It's about the size of a football field,
and it's packed 6 barrels high!

Since most of his clients age their wines in barrels for 1 to 2 years, he keeps them in a fully climate-controlled room at 75% humidity. And since Napa gets really hot during the summer, the entire roof of the barrel room is covered with state of the art solar panels that provide 100% of the facility's AC and lighting needs. At night, once the outside air gets cool enough, large vents automatically open up to ventilate the facility and cool it without any need for additional power consumption.

BTB has about 200 fermentation tanks, and most are stacked tanks (2 tanks, one on top of the other). Here's what a couple of rows of tanks look like:

Stacked fermentation tanks with glycol cooling lines.  The main glycol
lines run along catwalks suspended from the ceiling, and individual
lines run down to the tanks.  This arrangement leaves the floor
completely clean of any pipes or lines -- thereby avoiding injuries
and cleaning problems.  Smart!

On a big day, BTB will receive, sort, crush, and pump about 200 tons of fruit into ferm tanks and/or fermentation bins. On a big day, we (meaning the winery where I am working) will do less than 20 tons!

1 comment:

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