Chapter 6

Wine Fermentation

Wine Fermentors

Fermentors come in all sizes, shapes, and materials (Chapter 21). They can be conical, square, or even eggshaped. Tank sizes and the types of fermentors used for wine production vary depending on the size of the winery (i.e., tonnages crushed) and styles of wine being produced (e.g., red, white, or sparkling wine). Fermentors vary in their capacity and range from several hundred liters (including variable volume designs) to hundreds of kiloliters; some very large wineries have tanks that can hold a million liters or more. Smaller tanks may be housed indoors but bigger wineries will have large outdoor tank farms consisting of insulated and refrigerated tanks to maintain temperatures.

Types of Fermentors

Fermentors in modern wineries are typically made of stainless steel and are used to store juice or wine for purposes such as cold settling, stabilizing, maturing, blending, and while awaiting bottling. Like stainless steel tanks, wood tanks are also very common. Although winemakers in Europe have been utilizing concrete to make wine for centuries, winemakers in other countries are beginning to once again appreciate the mineralistic nature of concrete tanks and the gradual flow of oxygen into the wine.

Fermentor Tank Capacity

Optimal fermentor size has more to do with the quantities of juice or must fermented than almost any other factor. When the volumes are large, immense fermentors are both needed and economically appropriate. When modest volumes are fermented, suitably small fermentors are adequate and preferable. Specially designed tanks for small must volumes are produced in a variety of materials and are available from many manufacturers.

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