Attention Wine Makers: Read why Plastic Tanks kick Stainless Steel Tanks in the teeth.
Dom Carisetti and Patrice DeMay have over 50 years experience in the professional winemaking industry. They operate the Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars in upstate New York. The wine industry is currently using mostly stainless steel tanks which can be very expensive.
They set out to find a suitable solution to reduce price and looked into polyethylene tanks. Dom says “For $10,000 we equipped our winery with nearly 30,000 gallons of cooperage which also included the delivery price to the winery, for the same price we could only purchase a few stainless steel tanks totaling 5,000 gallons of cooperage. We chose Snyder tanks because they are well built and rugged compared to other plastic tanks we evaluated.”Another problem they had at the Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars was space. They wanted to find a way to utilize their space in a better manner to eliminate building multiple buildings to do the same thing. In the fall they ferment most of their juice and have the tanks inside. In the spring, when they bottle most of their wines, they send the tanks outside once they are empty. This gives them a large room in the cellar to do winery events for their customers. Since the tanks are lighter than stainless steel tanks they are much more portable. One person can move the 500 to 1100 gallon tanks and two people can move the 2500 gallon tanks.
Cleaning the tanks is also a simple task. Initially, Dom thought the absence of a bottom manway would be a problem. However, Dom says “for the price of a bottom manway on a stainless steel tank, that you may only use a few times a year, the price isn’t worth it.”
Here’s how they handle the cleaning. They do a lot of whole fresh fruit (other than grapes) that they crush into the tanks. The fruit ferments on the pulp. “After fermentation we rack the wine into clean tanks and merely tip the tanks over and scoop out the pulp (pomace). This takes 15 minutes with another 10 minutes to wash out the tank with hot water and a splash of bleach (chlorine)”. They also use a 6 foot stainless 2” pipe attached to their wine hose and pump to draw out the bottom wash liquid.
Some people are concerned about flavor pick up from the plastic. Dom says “There is absolutely no flavor pick up. If there were our customers would tell us. Last year we produced 3500 cases of wine for our first year of business, including wine for 6 other wineries. No one had any complaints. Of about 10,000 visitors to our winery last year only a handful commented on the tanks in a negative manner. Once we told them of the benefits of the tanks they became converts to plastic.”
In summary, polyethylene tanks can give wineries savings in tank costs over stainless steel and the portability can reduce the number of buildings required. Snyder’s high density linear polyethylene tanks are also molded from 100% FDA compliant materials and are safe for storage of food products.