Extended Vacation what to do with wine barrels?

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hdgypsyman

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I have three 25-30 liter Hungarian oak wine barrels full of wine at the present time. My wife has convinced me to take a three month winter vacation out of the Minnesota cold this year so we will be gone January, February, and March. I know that i can't leave barrels untopped during that time, so I plan on removing the wine from two of the barrels before leaving and either bottling or transferring to carboys depending on how they have progressed. Those two wines will have been in each barrel for at least six months anyway. The last full barrel is not scheduled to be emptied until June 2022. I know that I will probably have to remove that wine and store it in glass until I return. I'm just wondering if anyone has tried wrapping a barrel in shrink wrap to stop the angel's share from leaving the barrel. That's probably not a good option but it doesn't hurt to ponder. I am also wondering if K-meta and citric acid is the recommended fill while the barrels are idle. All three barrels have been through four batches or more of wine so I'm not too concerned about loosing oak flavor while storing.
 

Juniper Hill

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Are you able to get someone to top up for you? They'd only have to do so once at about 6 weeks. I'm thinking of moving to flextanks once I retire for exactly the reasons you've outlined.
 

niko13

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i made the flextank move last year for this exact reason
 

hdgypsyman

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I like the idea of leaving the one barrel full and finding an accomplice to top it off. If I have them do it once at the end of January and once at the end of February it might work out!
 

JBP

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What part of Minnesota?
 

NorCal

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If it were me and they are good, tight barrels (you get the vacuum sucking sound when you open the bung), I would be inclined to make sure SO2 was up to date and topped and just not worry about it for 12 weeks. If the barrels aren't tight, rack to glass and fill the barrel with aciduated water to 3.3 pH and 50-100 ppm SO2.
 

hdgypsyman

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Awesome responses! The barrels came from Mainshipfred and are nice and tight. I love the Idea of having wine in them while I am away. I think that I will take NorCal's advice and make sure that the barrels are topped and SO2 is in the proper range and leave them full. My basement wine area stays around 62 degrees (F) in the winter so it sounds like my wine will be fine staying in the barrels.
 

pete1325

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Never thought leaving them unattended was an issue. I got mine from Fred and they are pretty tight, after soaking them until tight. I top mine off every so often but never was that concerned and never taste any difference after ageing for a few months. I wouldn't be too worried about leaving them for a while.
 

mainshipfred

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The only thing I might recommend is using a solid bung and making sure it's degassed enough so the bung doesn't pop, maybe duct tape it down or tie a string around it to prevent it from popping out. Per @NorCal's comment, I love hearing that vacuum sound when removing the bung.

Also, thank you both for the barrel comments, I'm really glad they are working out for you.
 

hdgypsyman

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I use solid bungs on my barrels and I usually top every two weeks. I have a slight vacuum sound each time I open the barrels to top, so I'm good that way. Most of my wines sit 6 to 12 months in a carboy before they hit the barrels, so not much CO2 left after them being vacuum racked a few times before being barrelled.
 
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