This is a common question that gets asked a lot when it comes to winery hygiene. The wine barrel is an important vessel that stores and ages the wine. Therefore, it’s a pretty important part of the wine making process.
An aged or dry barrel doesn’t help with the flavor a barrel imparts or its hygiene. Rehydrating and cleaning your barrels actually goes hand in hand. Using steam vapour to do this two-in-one process is a great way to “safeguard” your wine from wine growing bacteria as well as allow your barrels to stay “fresher” for longer.
Steam vapour technology
A traditional hydrating process that winery’s use to clean their barrels has been to use large amounts of water to essentially flush out any leftover old wine and “wet” the surface. This process is normally done in conjunction with chemicals, which also leads to the issue of water waste.
Using a system such as steam vapour technology will rehydrate the barrels by getting deep with the surface of the barrel. This process is also a sustainable, chemical-free method. The high temperature component of steam vapour is a leading method for killing all bacteria. Many healthcare facilities around the world use steam vapour for its infection control properties.
Remember to create a natural vacuum
In order for steam vapour to penetrate and deep clean an entire barrel it needs to be trapped within the vessel and dispersed. This can be done by creating a natural vacuum. When steam is diffused through the top of the barrel using a rotating diffuser head it ensures that the entire barrel is getting a thorough disinfection, not just the top of the barrel.
There is a great test you can try to see the cleanliness of a barrel. Prior to steam vapour cleaning, simply rinse or pressure wash a barrel and tip it upside down and see what gets drained out into a bucket. After you have steam vapoured your barrel, do the draining test once again and see the trapped residue that has come out of the pores of the oak and a “supposedly clean” barrel. This an ideal way to see the difference between pressure washing and steam vapour cleaning.