Wine Storage System
“VC tanks have poor seals that result in oxidation and microbial spoilage, VCTs have long been considered a necessary evil for small lot storage. Everybody hates them! SmartBarrel liners, which eliminate these problems, are a boon to small producer wine quality, to say nothing of their convenience, economy, and the elimination of water and chemicals for cleaning,” notes Clark Smith.
The SmartBarrel wine storage system uses a patent diptube and single-use liners to store wine with no headspace – eliminating oxidation. The low oxygen permeable flexible liners can store partial volumes for years with no topping. Sampling is done by a vacuum pump reducing contamination. The liners are used only once which again avoids contamination due to poor cleaning, and also minimizes wash water usage. The Smart system have been available for several years for use with vertical drums, horizontal barrels, and 330 gallon IBC containers.
Many wineries have a considerable investment in VC tanks. The concept of variable capacity tanks is very attractive – the lid can be adjusted for partial fills to minimize headspace. In practice, however VCTs are a big headache. The seals often fail allowing air to enter and ruin the precious wine. Meticulous monitoring and maintenance are required.
Wineries can now easily convert their existing VC tanks to SmartBarrels thereby leveraging their investment yet upgrading to modern technology that requires no attention or topping off. Wine can be observed through the clear liners and any headspace or contamination is easily observed. The liners are completely sealed so accidental air ingress is impossible.
Converting a VC tank is simple – 1) remove the lid and throw it away! 2) adjust the telescopic diptube to the height of the tank, 3) insert the diptube into the single-use liner and attach using a triclamp. Now place the liner into the VCT and pump the wine though the fill/drain fitting on the diptube (1 ½” triclamp, 2 “ triclamp , or QC fitting) into the liner. Once the wine is pumped, disconnect the fill line and cover with triclamp cap. Next aspirate any headspace using the cordless Aspirator accessory.
All operations with the SmartBarrel are done with wine pumps. Wine is removed by pumping out of the fill/drain top port. As wine is removed, the liner collapses so headspace is never created. The patented perforated design of the diptube ensures that the clean wine is automatically drawn out first. No need for a racking cane. No “topping off” is ever needed. Sampling using a traditional wine thief introduces air and can cause cross-contamination. The SmartBarrel does not use a wine thief. Samples are taken using a vacuum aspirator that assures that nothing is introduced into the wine during sampling.
You can still utilize the cooling jacket of the VC tank for temperature control. SmartBarrel diptubes can be purchased with an internal temperature sensor that can be interfaced to your jacket temperature controller.
Upgrading your Variable Capacity tank to a SmartBarrel provides an effective, economical, and reliable solution for the safe storage of wine during racking, aging, and bulk. This technology was developed over years of experimentation based on Dr Vijay Singh’s unsurpassed knowledge of flexible pharmaceutical processing. The key component of the SmartBarrel is the patented diptube. The wine is stored in single-use liners that have extremely low oxygen permeability. The contact materials have been used for bag-in-box systems for years and are known not to impart odors or other negative effects.
SmartBarrel upgrade kits for VC tanks are currently available up to 1,000 liters. Larger sizes up to 3,000 liters will be available December 2021.
Traditional cellar operations, such as “oaking” are easily performed by introducing inexpensive and environmentally sustainable oak products – chips, staves, or cubes into the SmartBarrel liners. A side benefit of this procedure is that when the appropriate level of oaking is achieved the process can be easily terminated by simply pumping the wine out to a new liner without oak products. The chips, staves, etc. are retained in the original liner by the perforations in the diptube. This is not possible with traditional wood barrels.
Liners are single-use, so there is no cleaning. A perfectly clean storage container is instantly available.