Lionel 25 to 30 Okanagan wineries using concrete
Coletta agrees. “I think one of the
benefits of concrete for a winery business
“It’s really exciting for us to see other
is you don’t have those aging oak vessels
people embracing concrete and under-standing
which are being turned over every seven
the benefits of it,” Coletta said.
years and made into planters,” she said.
“You’re not constantly having to
Long history of concrete in
buy new ones. When you’ve got concrete
tanks in place, they should be there for
Sonoma Cast Stone, which also manufac-tures
the life of the winery.”
concrete beer tanks as well as con-crete
Rosenblatt notes that unlike stain-less
countertops, sinks and bathtubs,
steel tanks, those made with concrete
was founded by Steve Rosenblatt, whose
maintain wine at a very even tempera-ture,
unique line of wine tanks are now sold to
resulting in a smooth and gradual
wineries around the world.
Rosenblatt says concrete, like oak,
Concrete tanks impart some desir-able
has a long history of being used for wine-making,
minerality to the wine, he says,
but it fell out of favour in North
and the porous quality of concrete also
America a few decades ago due in part
enables micro-oxygenation to take place,
to size limitations and the emergence of
which keeps the wine from going flat.
new, less expensive stainless-steel tanks
Rosenblatt considers flavour an area
in the winemaking market.
where concrete tanks really shine. He
Rosenblatt says since then, concrete
believes fermenting and storing wine in
tanks have come a long way – they’re
concrete gives it a delicious complexity
larger, more sophisticated and available
and enhanced mouthfeel, with no added
in many different shapes and sizes.
flavours to mask the fruit.
Sonoma Cast Stone, which intro-duced
“You’re getting a fruit-forward, wide
its first Classic Egg tank in 2005,
mouth minerality with it that you just
now offers a dozen different designs,
don’t get in oak or stainless steel,” he said.
including a segmented concrete tank sys-tem
Coletta says her winery still utilizes
the company is introducing that can
some stainless-steel tanks, but they found
store more than 11,000 litres of wine.
concrete to be their best option for fer-menting
Another benefit is that concrete
tanks can save a lot of space – a 1,800 litre
“There seems to be a creamy, min-eral
wine tank, for instance, holds the equiva-lent
aspect to the wines that come out of
of eight barrels of wine and much
concrete, whereas the ones that come out
more for larger tanks. They’re also a lot
of stainless steel are brighter and more
for the Nico Velo tanks at her winery was
more durable than oak, says Rosenblatt.
linear,” she said.
about $12,000 each, with another $3,000 COV E R F E AT U R E
Coletta also considers concrete tanks
more flexible, since their winery is able to
use them for making red and white wines.
“We also make our sparkling wine base in
concrete as well,” she said.
Purity of flavour
Sébastien Hotte is head winemaker for
Ricco Bambino, another Okanagan winery
utilizing concrete tanks for fermenting and
aging wine which opened in 2017. He says
because Ricco Bambino is a natural win-ery
that utilizes primarily locally–sourced
organic grapes for its wine, concrete was an
“We wanted to offer wines that were
more about fruit driven style of wines,
that show the purity of the grapes that we
grow,” he said. “Employing oak, even if it’s
neutral, can mask some of the aromas of
the fruit and some of the flavour percep-tions,”
“You’re also getting a small amount of
micro-oxygenation with concrete that is
clearly interacting with the wines in a nice
way with the tannins, and the wines can
breathe during aging.”
Hotte points out that oak barrels will
impart flavours to wine for four years,
but then become neutral, which has cost
“If you’re looking for new oak flavours
for your wine year in year out, then you’re
always having to purchase new oak barrels,”
Hotte says Ricco Bambino has six Nico
Velo tanks, three that are 1,600 litres and
the others are 3,100 litres. He notes that
special care is required for any winemak-ing
vessel and for new concrete tanks, this
starts with washing them out with a tartar-ic
acid solution that helps prepare the tanks
After this initial step, water is used
to clean the inside of concrete tanks.
Scrubbing or the use of chemical prod-ucts
is not recommended since this dis-turbs
the natural microflora that develop in
each tank and contributes to the distinctive
quality of concrete-produced wine.
Buying a concrete tank system is gen-erally
more expensive than stainless steel or
oak, and there’s also the considerable cost
of getting the tanks delivered, especially
when they are shipped from Europe; where
most concrete tanks are made.
Coletta notes the average price tag
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