Eric von Krosigk
October 2, 2012 | Winemaking | Eric von Krosigk

Let the Nitrogen Flow

We are very excited to begin using a nitrogen generator this vintage in the Summerhill production cellar. We have plumbed the nitrogen directly into our tanks with the goal of reducing or eliminating preservatives/allergens (SO2) used in winemaking, while reducing the need for climate control in the wine cellar (thereby saving energy). Also, we will now be able to use nitrogen liberally in various other winemaking processes to eliminate oxygen pickup at every step that we desire.

Although use of inert gasses to cap tanks and prevent oxidation is common in the wine industry, plumbing a renewable nitrogen generating system directly into the tanks and applying constant low pressure will be, as far as we know, a first for a BC winery. This system’s demonstrated success will pave the way for improvement in all winemaking, organic and conventional, both in terms of wine quality and in environmental sustainability, and enable possible production of no-sulphite-added wines.

We will be conducting research with the 2012 vintage of wines, which we have just begun to crush, and we will be sharing our research and experiences here on this blog, as well as in a report that we will share with the industry in early spring, 2013. Here are the parameters of our research:

- Using a control, we will collect data on current baseline levels of SO2 additions both on monthly tank maintenance levels and total ppm levels at bottling. We will map out the effect of low pressure nitrogen atmospheric control

- We will monitor dissolved oxygen, and look for any relevant analytical differences, in tanks with and without atmospheric control

- We will conduct blind tastings of the same wine made with and without atmospheric control

- Once bottled we will check SO2 levels and quality/aroma levels monthly

- We will map out the shelf life from data derived over three years, and determine any other analytical differences and sensory differences

Funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry ofAgriculture through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program under GrowingForward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The program is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCanada (AAFC) and the BC Ministry of Agriculture are committed to working with industry partners. Opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and not necessarily those of AAFC or the Ministry of Agriculture.

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