So there’s a few more things to do today! I like it when it's busy at work. It makes the day go by faster. And today I started by cleaning two dirty tanks that look like that haven’t been cleaned since last year. They still had stuck on dried grapes and lees. After cleaning the tanks, I got to do a wine transfer! The wine transfer is a little more exciting that cleaning tanks.
They wanted me to transfer some wine from a 1,000 Liter VC tank to an oak cask. (For reference 1,000 liters is about 264 gallons.) For my non winery friends a VC tank means it’s a variable capacity tank. This tank is basically a cylindrical can with a movable lid. It allows you to put whatever amount of wine you have (as long as it fits in the tank) with a floating lid that sits on top of the wine. This allows for no headspace or room for oxygen to interact with the wine. Too much oxygen interaction with a finished wine can cause oxidation, which is considered as a wine fault.
Anyways, back to the wine transfer. The winery has these pumps I’ve never used before. They're relatively large pumps, at least in comparison to the ones I'm used to. And these new pumps have a clear covering on the side, so you can see the mechanism turning. It's called a Peristaltic pump. It'd basically a big roller moves the wine through the lines. Simon described it to me like squeezing toothpaste out. Wikipedia has a better visual description "A peristaltic pump is a type of positive displacement pump used for pumping a variety of fluids. The fluid is contained within a flexible tube fitted inside a circular pump casing. A rotor with a number of "rollers", "shoes", "wipers", or "lobes" attached to the external circumference of the rotor compresses the flexible tube. As the rotor turns, the part of the tube under compression is pinched closed thus forcing the fluid to be pumped to move through the tube." I'll have to take a video of it running so you can really see how it works. I've never used or have seen these pumps before, but they're really gentle on the wine. Other pumps use compressed air or paddles which isn't necessarily the most gentle when transferring wine. Simon gave me a quick overview on how to work the pump. It was a little strange at first, and my biggest fear is blowing up a pump or lines. So I always try to be cautious when using pumps.
I fill the cask as much as possible and then there only a small amount of wine left in the VC, I’m told just to drain what’s left into a bucket and pour the rest into the top of the cask. The cask is basically an extra large barrel. It has a door and valves on the side and bottom. But on top is just a 2” opening for the bung. So I drain what's left in the VC tank into buckets and start to pour the wine into a funnel at the top of the cask. The cask is quite full, but I’m always a bad judgement at how much wine it’ll actually take to fill barrels/casks. So as I’m pourig wine into this cask. It’s suddently full and all the wine I just poured into the funnel, is just pouring all over the side of the cask. And onto the ground. Shit. It was only about a gallon or so.. but still. I hate spilling or wasting wine. Stuff like this happens all the time in a winery. But just hoping it didn't make me look to bad on only my second day at work.