Okanagan Crush Pad to use Sonoma Cast Stone Concrete Egg Fermenters
Okanagan Crush Pad Winery announces the latest in Canada’s winemaking evolution: they are the first and only winery in Canada to use egg-shaped temperature-controlled concrete tanks for winemaking. Okanagan Crush Pad has ordered six of the concrete fermenters from California’s Sonoma Cast Stone.
Concrete has been used for centuries in winemaking, but these egg-shaped tanks take a forward- thinking approach using modern features such as temperature-control tubing. These tubes are embedded into the walls of the eggs and are engineered for use in concrete for radiant heating and cooling. This provides even temperature throughout the tank and no parts that requires cleaning come into direct contact with the juice.
There is also an impact on the flavour development of wine when concrete is used. Like oak vessels, which are commonly used in winemaking, concrete is slightly porous, allowing the wine to breathe as it would in oak. However, unlike oak, the eggs leave no oaky flavour as they gently diffuse oxygen. Concrete is considered neutral, like stainless steel, and imparts no flavours of its own. The concrete tanks are unlined and they permit a measured but lasting flow of oxygen into the tank throughout fermentation and aging.
The tank’s egg shape means more of the cap (skins and pulp floating on top of the juice in red-wine fermentation) stays submerged. According to Sonoma Cast Stone, this lengthier contact of the skins and pulp with the juice means wines come out brighter with higher fruit notes and prettier secondary aromas that you don’t tend to find in wines fermented in stainless steel.
Alberto Antonini, Okanagan Crush Pad’s Italian consulting winemaker, has a history of working with concrete in Europe and looks forward to working with the concrete eggs in Canada. While he has yet to experience Sonoma Cast Stone eggs, he is looking forward to using them during the 2011 vintage.
The wine trade in Vancouver and a handful of media were offered a sneak peek at a concrete egg as it made a stopover in Vancouver while being shipped to the Okanagan. The egg - as heavy as a rhinoceros when empty (4200 lbs / 1.9t) and weighing as much as an adult orca when full - certainly caught people’s attention and inspired curiosity.
“I can’t wait to taste the first Canadian wine made in one of these eggs,” said Christine Coletta, an Okanagan Crush Pad owner. “Okanagan Crush Pad is experiencing a lot of firsts but we believe this innovation will shape wine quality and help us define our region’s taste profile.”
Okanagan Crush Pad is a winery located in Summerland, BC and is home to Haywire wines and others, including Bartier Scholefield, which will be launched in 2011. The licensed winery has been designed to facilitate production of multiple small lots of wine from many different sources, and the management of Okanagan Crush Pad welcomes clients seeking to use the facility’s specialized equipment. For more information see www.okanagancrushpad.com