commercial tank suggestions

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Ct Winemaker

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Hello Folks,

We're going commercial, and are looking for recommendations for tanks. To you commercial folks, if you were starting again, what tanks would you use. Our plan is as follows:

Starting with two Variable Volume tanks - 1,000 to 1,100 Ltr. (290 gal)
Will have glycol cooling system.

Tanks should have:
-Cooling jackets
-Clean out door.
-Not flat bottom (slope or conical OK) with lower port.
-Additional pump over port.
-Hoist for lid
-Thermometer port.

Thinking about GW Kent units (model 2747-1), but a little concerned about the "small" size of the cooling jackets (U-shaped on back). Has anyone used the GW Kent tanks, and if so, what do you think?

Again, what would you do for tanks if you were starting again? Suggestions and thoughts sincerely appreciated.

Thank you very much.
 

Rice_Guy

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the first step on commercial winery is a budget, , , ,” plan” , , scope.
We're going commercial, and are looking for recommendations for tanks. . . . , what would you do for tanks if you were starting again? Suggestions and thoughts sincerely appreciated.
There are two commercial operations near by. The north one took about three million to set up, has a brand new building all new stainless tanks/ hydro press/ bottle line/ filtration/ tractor/ vines/ etc etc. Tasting room with meeting space. Ballpark a dozen wines and five staff. ,,, lots of glitz
The south direction winery has lots of used equipment (has doubled the stainless tankage in three years), is in a business park (ie rent), smaller footprint, buys all juice and all fruit concentrates, ballpark twenty wines and four staff, serves food in the tasting room and seems more busy than the one north of town, ,,,,, and seems to be making it.

In buying stainless equipment my first lesson was that I should expect some unplanned or missed calculation, and always have a backup option B and C. ,,, Next, Like the south winery I have found lots of used stainless from folks that needed to change their plan.
 

VinesnBines

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I can't comment on the GW Kents but I do agree with Rice-Guy.
Next, Like the south winery I have found lots of used stainless from folks that needed to change their plan.
I'm collecting winery equipment although I'm quite far from going commercial. I've picked up enough equipment to process and ferment at least 4 tons of grapes (480 to 500 gallons of white and red). Through Craigslist, the VVA Exchange, and ProBrewer, I've acquired two crusher/destemmers (one motorized), two basket presses and one bladder press, two 600L Marchisio VC tanks, two 60 g barrels, a dozen 50L beer kegs, about 20 carboys of various sizes, floor corker, a dozen cases of bottles, pump, various gadgets. My investment so far is roughly $3700.

Some equipment was from a small winery going out of
business; the kegs from a brewery that was also going out of business. The biggest score included the tanks, barrels, a crusher/destemmer, bladder press, pump and various other items for $2500. That all came from some serious home winemakers that were moving out of the country.

I figure I can pick up a glycol unit and manage with the equipment I have for quite awhile. If I decide not to go commercial, I can get rid of everything with no trouble.

ProBrewer is a good site to find used SS fermenters. They may not be your dream equipment but well maintained they will last until you sell them to another small winery/brewery.
 

jgmillr1

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I went commercial 7 years ago as a small midwest winery. I've bought all our Letina brand tanks up to this point from St Pats. (However, I won't buy from them again because of their customer service.) GW Kent has a lof of equipment but tends to be more expensive than other places. I bought my portable 1.5ton Advantage chiller from Kent but found I could have bought it from Advantage directly at 20% lower cost. OTOH, Kent is quick to ship and has the pieces in stock. I'm look at Agertank for my next tank purchase but don't have any experience with them yet.

The 1000L tanks are convenient to get started with but you may find them too small down the road. I still use the few I started with but began buying 2000L tanks after a couple years. Will be buying 3000L tanks this year and starting to wonder about the value of the footprint that those 1000L tanks are taking up in the winery. Consider that you may not need to have a manway or cooling on every tank. These add some considerable costs. I don't have any with manways yet and can effectively clean the tank with a hose & ladder.

The flat bottom tanks are more difficult to clean but fit nicely on a pallet so you can move them around. The flat bottoms also are nice in that the volume from the bottom of the tank to the lower valve is a natural catch for yeast/sediment during fermentation.

Since you are in the northeast, you may end up getting juice from Walkers Wine Juice. They have some good price breaks at 550gal single varietal purchases which you can split into 2 smaller tanks.

The u-shaped cooling jacket isn't really a problem. I wrapped some of the reflectix insulation around the tanks and the u-shaped jacket works great to get the tank down to temp. I can get 500gal down from room temp to 28F in 12hrs or so.

The other piece to tanks is matching your pump, hoses, filter sizes to your tank size. For a 1000L tank, you can use 1in hoses, GW Kent's 20x20cm plate filter and a 8gal/min pump fine but those will take seemingly forever on a 2000L tank. So, if you are buying a 40x40 plate&frame filter, you'll want a pump to match it's capacity (20gal/min) and 1.5in hoses to match the pump.
 

Ct Winemaker

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jgmillr1, thank you very much. That is exactly the information / experience / insight I was hoping for, very helpful!

In regards to size, I have a couple of constraints to consider. The winery will be in a beautiful 1893 stone mill that my wife and I own. We have a large space (about 4,300 sq ft), so space isn’t an issue, The ceiling height is about 9 ft, so that can be a restraint to open tanks, and floor loading (wood floors) may prevent heavier tanks. Based on that, we may just need to live with more - smaller tanks over time.

Thanks again for the very helpful information!

Anyone else with helpful insight will be much appreciated.
 

jgmillr1

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floor loading (wood floors) may prevent heavier tanks
This would be a major concern for me. The 9ft ceiling will likely limit tank sizes to 1000-1500L. However, even a full 1000L tank will weigh 2500lbs over a 4ft by 4ft area. The 1000L tank will fill 1 pallet with wine bottles that will weigh 3500lbs. If the wine pallets will be stored on the same floor as the wine production, that will be quite a load. The flooring of a former stone mill was likely designed to handle such amount of weight, but I know I'd sleep better if a structural engineer gave an assessment of the construction and wood's condition. It may require some additional beams and foundation support. That could be a good opportunity to install some floor drains as well.

Sounds like a wonderful building for a winery. People love that kind of charm that you can't replicate with any modern building.
 

Ct Winemaker

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Thanks jgmillr1 for the thoughts. The building is a large industrial building that was designed for extremely heavy floor loading. It has been evaluated by structural engineers multiple times and the soon to be winery space was most recently used for a machine shop with heavy mills and lathes, etc. it’s good to go for our use, but we will likely place steel plates (3/4 inch thick) under the tanks to distribute load, and place the tanks directly over beams (beam every 8 ft). Floor is 4 inches solid tung and groove, with a 10 x 18 chestnut beam every 8 ft.

thanks for continuing to think about us! Any other thoughts much appreciated.
 

VinesnBines

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The winery will be in a beautiful 1893 stone mill that my wife and I own. We have a large space (about 4,300 sq ft), so space isn’t an issue, The ceiling height is about 9 ft, so that can be a restraint to open tanks, and floor loading (wood floors) may prevent heavier tanks.
This sounds gorgeous. I hope you are planning the tasting room in the mill as well. I'm jealous; send pictures.

I'm contemplating an old house as a winery (not tasting room) but we really only have 8 foot ceilings. We will have a concrete floor. I thought of taking flooring out of the second level but tanks are too wide to go between floor joists. I guess we could remove a few joists but the house might come down. Planning and more planning.
 

GreginND

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First - PLAN FOR BOTTLED WINE STORAGE SPACE. This has been my biggest challenge in my small winery.

I really think Letina tanks are the best quality and, unfortunately, St. Pats has the best prices for steel that I have seen. If you don't have to talk to them ordering is easy and I have never had any hassles. But I know they can be pretty rude on the phone. That being said, I would order again because . . . the tanks.

I use mostly 1000 L tanks. Sorry, I haven't done jacketed tanks because I have a space I can chill a whole room in the winter. But I may need to step up for more flexibility in chilling.

Good luck!
 

Ct Winemaker

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GreginND,
Thanks for the input much appreciated. I will look into the Letina tanks before finalizing my decision. We do have space "blocked out" for finished goods cold storage, but based on your comments, I might consider a little more (space had to be designed out in order to provide TTB a floor plan for the bonded winery area).

VinesnBines,

Yes, it's a pretty special buidling. I'll attach a few pics to the post. In addition to the appearance, it is located in a 2,000 acre beautiful state part. It's also 100% renewable powered via 500 kw hydro facility that uses turbines that our former company built and for which I hold several patents. The total facility is 27,000 sq ft., the winery will use about 4,350 sq. ft.

It will have a tasting room in the mill, but as we speak, our town does not permit that, but will once a specific old CT Blue law is modified. The law modification was eminent until our state legislature decided not to work at all during the Corona Virus mess, so everything stopped. We are moving forward with all plans with expectation that the tasting room will eventually be permitted.

Here's a couple of pics including the area where the winery will be located.
IMG_1952.JPGIMG_1955.JPGIMG_4081.JPGIMG_4083.JPG
 
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I can't comment on the GW Kents but I do agree with Rice-Guy.

I'm collecting winery equipment although I'm quite far from going commercial. I've picked up enough equipment to process and ferment at least 4 tons of grapes (480 to 500 gallons of white and red).
What do you do with 200 cases of wine/year if you're not commercial? 😂
 

jgmillr1

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St. Pats has the best prices for steel that I have seen. If you don't have to talk
Or email them. If you decide to buy anything from them, never have audacity to criticize or complain to them even when they are at fault. I got such an arrogant and dismissive response when I wanted exchange a defective product. Their prices are decent but not worth the chip on the shoulder.
 

VinesnBines

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What do you do with 200 cases of wine/year if you're not commercial?
First you grow enough grapes, then you either go commercial or get two other couples to make wine with you. I think the latter is what the owners of the tanks were doing. Anyhow, if you stay on the prowl you can score some decent used stuff. On the other hand if you have money you need to invest.... go first class with new.

I'm 1. Incredibly cheap; 2. Incredibly poor; and 3. Incredibly cheap.
 

DaveMcC

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So with federal ATF and TTB regulations, how are you able to produce 500 gallons of wine without a commercial license? Federal regulations dictate a maximum of 200 gallons per two adult household. Just curious. Are you just licensed and not selling? Is that possible?
 

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