Streaming Barrels While Racking

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vouxwines

Owner - VOUX Wines
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I recently acquired a commercial barrel steamer (15kw) and AquaBlaster high pressure barrel washer.

When racking my procedure has been:

1) Rack wine out of barrel
2) Quick wash until waste water is clear
3) Steam until temp reaches internal 212 degrees F
4) Bung to form vacuum for 5 minutes
5) Remove bung and quick rinse until waste water is clear

I let the barrel cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring the wine in.

During transfer there is still steam rising out of the bung hole and the barrel is warm to the touch. When starting filling and during filling the smell of hot wine is present and I’m afraid the internal temp is too high to transfer into and I do not want to cook my wine.

After filling I measure the temp and it’s at 60 degrees, started at 55 degrees going in.

In previous years I’ve done the same procedure but with much less powerful non commercial equipment.

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated…I’ll taste the wine today to see if the flavor was effected.
 
60°F is not going to damage your wine. What is the temp of the barrel just before you fill?

What size of barrel? To heat 60 gallons ish by 5°F, that's a good amount of energy. If it's 30 gallons, not too shabby imo
 
60°F is not going to damage your wine. What is the temp of the barrel just before you fill?

What size of barrel? To heat 60 gallons ish by 5°F, that's a good amount of energy. If it's 30 gallons, not too shabby imo
I haven’t measured the temp of the empty steamed barrel just before transfer. I realize the final resting temp of the full barrel at 60 is not damaging: my concern was the smell and the potential of damage at the start or even the middle of filling.
 
60°F is not going to damage your wine. What is the temp of the barrel just before you fill?

What size of barrel? To heat 60 gallons ish by 5°F, that's a good amount of energy. If it's 30 gallons, not too shabby imo
Sorry forgot to mention it’s a 60 gallon barrel…
 
I let the barrel cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring the wine in.
That seems very little time to let the barrel cool. Is there any reason you can't clean the barrel the day before?

My protocol -

Hot water wash (Moog, which I guess is equivalent to your Aqua Blaster) until it runs clear
5 minutes steam (more only if there is a known problem with the barrel)
Bung for 1-2 minutes (5 min seems very long, risk of sucking the bung into the barrel)
Drain and cool. Can maybe use same day after a few hrs but better leave it overnight...
 
I don't foresee the wood holding too much heat for long. I said 30 minutes above, and can understand a hour or two. Overnight seems like too much.
What would be the downside of leaving overnight (inverted so that it thoroughly drains)? I don't think it's going to get any sort of contamination over that timeframe...
 
As a new barrel owner, I have to ask. Why should we steam between wines? If there is wine already in there and it is doing just fine, why not just rinse and refill?
Simple caution. If the last batch had anything going in it, a good cleaning, regardless of method, resets the barrel to a clean state.

What would be the downside of leaving overnight (inverted so that it thoroughly drains)? I don't think it's going to get any sort of contamination over that timeframe...
You're probably right that it doesn't make much difference. I'm erring on the side of caution.
 
Yeah that's a lot of energy to heat 60 gallons by 5°F. That's like.... 500BTUs? You may be cooking the first gallon or two as that kind of energy in only 2 gallons could be reaching 100°F+
Update and correction, I actually started with a temp of 58-59F before racking (typo) and when racking was complete temp was at 59-60. After tasting the wine immediately after racking, then one day and two days after racking it appears to be unaffected. I also measured the internal temp after an hour of sitting before filling and it hovered between 100-105F. I push with argon and a single 60 gal barrel only takes about 10 minutes to fill. Although a portion of the wine may see high temp on the start of transfer, I believe that it’s such a small percentage of the barrel that it’s negligible.

If you are at all concerned about what I was concerned about, don’t be.

Thank you for all of the input everyone!
 
Also compacted lees.

I use a power washer -- I've got 90 degree and 135 degree extensions, so I can get everything except right around the bung.
I’ve tried just power washing at 140F and it’s just not enough. And you lose more oak flavor. I’ve found quick mechanical rinsing under 20 seconds after a 212 F steam is most effecting in preserving oak and loosening tartrates or melting them. Melting point is 169F so it does the job well.
 
I’ve tried just power washing at 140F and it’s just not enough. And you lose more oak flavor. I’ve found quick mechanical rinsing under 20 seconds after a 212 F steam is most effecting in preserving oak and loosening tartrates or melting them. Melting point is 169F so it does the job well.
How does that work (ie losing oak flavor by hot water washing)?

I've worked with a winemaker who wouldn't dream of steaming a new barrel for fear of losing flavor, and another who has no such qualms. And it's very relevant to me since I just emptied my 110L barrel (new last season) and need to keep it in good shape until it gets filled again around October this year. Simple cold water washing (regular hose, not power washer) did quite a good job where I could reach, but I don't have angled spray wands like @winemaker81 describes. Maybe a trip to the hardware store is in order...
 
How does that work (ie losing oak flavor by hot water washing)?

I've worked with a winemaker who wouldn't dream of steaming a new barrel for fear of losing flavor, and another who has no such qualms. And it's very relevant to me since I just emptied my 110L barrel (new last season) and need to keep it in good shape until it gets filled again around October this year. Simple cold water washing (regular hose, not power washer) did quite a good job where I could reach, but I don't have angled spray wands like @winemaker81 describes. Maybe a trip to the hardware store is in order...
A cold water rinse is not enough after one use. With red wines you may end up with elevated levels acidity due to tartaric crystals precipitating off the walls of the barrel back into the wine once you refill it. I’ve experienced that before. Not to mention you want to remove as much material (I.e. lees, tartaric and any other solids) as possible after each use to prevent bad guys from forming while in storage. But even more importantly, you must dry the barrel for at least 24 hours unbunged upside down then follow with a sulfur gas burn to seal and store. Repeat the burn every 4-6 weeks. Upon reusing you must rehydrate, then fill. If the barrel has seen more than one use I’ll steam again.

Mechanical removal of sediment and tartrates always removes more oak than steaming from my experience. So I soften material with steam, then apply mechanical removal with cold water pressure washing. Always bunging to form a vacuum before the pressure washing to suck out bad guys and residual wine from between the staves.

The equipment to do this is NOT cheap though to do it properly. Collectively we have over 25k wrapped up in barrel steamer, wash head, and pressure washing pump. There is not way around that. I’ve tried. You must invest if you have a good deal of money wrapped up in oak. If you are just a hobbiest your best bet is a hot water wash and sulfur sticks.
 
I’ve tried just power washing at 140F and it’s just not enough. And you lose more oak flavor. I’ve found quick mechanical rinsing under 20 seconds after a 212 F steam is most effecting in preserving oak and loosening tartrates or melting them. Melting point is 169F so it does the job well.
Two of my barrels were manufactured in 2010, so they're totally neutral.

After power washing, I add half a pound of Barrel Oxyfresh to each and soak them for 4 hours.
 
Simple cold water washing (regular hose, not power washer) did quite a good job where I could reach, but I don't have angled spray wands like @winemaker81 describes. Maybe a trip to the hardware store is in order...
This is what mine look like. I purchased an extension wand for powerwashing the house, and they were part of the set.

a warning for using both -- the sideways force is powerful. The first time I used the 90 degree extension I was 10' up on a ladder, and it nearly blew me off the ladder. First time using it, brace yourself and be prepared. It works great, but it's rough on the shoulders.

For the barrel, I put the tip inside the barrel before triggering it.


1717352348079.png
 
This is what mine look like. I purchased an extension wand for powerwashing the house, and they were part of the set.

a warning for using both -- the sideways force is powerful. The first time I used the 90 degree extension I was 10' up on a ladder, and it nearly blew me off the ladder. First time using it, brace yourself and be prepared. It works great, but it's rough on the shoulders.

For the barrel, I put the tip inside the barrel before triggering it.


View attachment 113072
How about one of these steamers? I use it for the car. Very hot steam.

steamer2.png
 

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