Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

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Adam Frisch
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Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#1 Post by Adam Frisch »

Moved into my own space now, but it's a very small facility and space is a premium, so have a question for the professionals. Problem: I need to have a blending tank for bottling and homogenizing purposes. Probably around 1100-1200gal capacity. But then I found these square and stackable Stainless IBC tanks (see link), that would really help me maximize my space. But the biggest one is on only 550gal. So let's say I have two or thee of those - is there a clever way of pumping across, transferring and continually blending until you have a completely homogenized lot? Feels like almost a math problem - and I sucked at math.

I don't mind if it's a little more labour intensive, as it only happens a few times a year, but it does need to blend the wine fully.

https://www.thecarycompany.com/550-gall ... ifications

PS. When I think of this problem I keep recalling that scene in Die Hard 3 when they need to get 3gal into a jug to disarm the bomb, but they only have a 5gal or something.
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Owner, proprietor and winemaker at Sabelli-Frisch Wines. I make wine from low-impact vineyards, focus on rare, forgotten, under-appreciated or historic grape varietals. Mission grape is my main red focus. IG: sabellifrisch

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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#2 Post by Ed Kurtzman »

There's always a way! You just need a tape measure, and a remote for your pump with a long enough cord so you can be at the top of each of your tanks with the tape measure and stop the pump when you get to the correct measurement. Or, you need to have two people: one with the tape measure on top of the tanks, and one standing by the pump. If you don't use pumps, there's still a way to do this with smaller tanks, but it always involves a tape measure. Flashlights are very helpful, as well as the calculator on your phone. You could also make 3 completely different blends, in each of the 3 smaller tanks, but put the same label on the 3 blends. I'm sure it happens!

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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#3 Post by Ken Zinns »

Would what you're looking to do work by blending the wine at bottling? You could use a hose connector fitting that will hook up hoses from each of your 2 or three tanks into a single hose that will then go through a pump and to the bottling line. As long as the volumes in each tank are equal, the wine should blend in the hose. Not as effective and precise a method as what Ed suggested, though.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#4 Post by Adam Frisch »

OK, thanks.

Bare with me for this mathematical exercise and question:

1. In tank A I put the contents of barrel 1 and 2.
2. In tank B I put the contents of barrel 3 and 4.
3. Into a separate tank C, I transfer half of tank A and half of tank B to mix. Tank C is now full and has an equal amount of liquid from all barrels, right?
4. Now tank A is half full and I can transfer tank B into tank A to make that full and leave tank B completely empty. Now tank A has an equal amount of liquid from each barrel.

So far so good. Now that tank C and tank A are full, but are they really identical, tho? Or do I need to mix this even more?

This is my question to the brain trust.
Sabelli-Frisch Wines

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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#5 Post by Ken Zinns »

Sounds like that would work. Since you still would have an empty tank, I suppose you could always repeat the process once more but I don’t know that it would be necessary.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#6 Post by Brian Gilp »

Your approach is what I do with much smaller quantities in carboys but it’s the same theory. Works just fine and no need to do more than once.

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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#7 Post by Stewart Johnson »

Adam Frisch wrote: July 31st, 2020, 11:11 am OK, thanks.

Bare with me for this mathematical exercise and question:

1. In tank A I put the contents of barrel 1 and 2.
2. In tank B I put the contents of barrel 3 and 4.
3. Into a separate tank C, I transfer half of tank A and half of tank B to mix. Tank C is now full and has an equal amount of liquid from all barrels, right?
4. Now tank A is half full and I can transfer tank B into tank A to make that full and leave tank B completely empty. Now tank A has an equal amount of liquid from each barrel.

So far so good. Now that tank C and tank A are full, but are they really identical, tho? Or do I need to mix this even more?

This is my question to the brain trust.
I think you split the line with a T or Y during both movements -- both when you rack into tanks and, as Ken suggested, when you come out of tanks to bottle. If you rack separate barrels to the separate tanks, you have to move the wine more in circulating between tanks or racking an extra time. Even if you want to add in one of those extra steps, you're further along in mixing by splitting the line during racking.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#8 Post by Adam Frisch »

Brian, Stewart - thanks.

Makes sense to have a T or Y split from the barrels, so they're already going half in each.

Cheers.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#9 Post by larry schaffer »

Note that you can also get those tanks with glycol - something to consider in the case you want to use one for cold stability or controlling temperatures in the future.

Cheers.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#10 Post by Adam Frisch »

larry schaffer wrote: August 5th, 2020, 7:24 am Note that you can also get those tanks with glycol - something to consider in the case you want to use one for cold stability or controlling temperatures in the future.

Cheers.
I wanted that - until I checked the prices of glycol chillers! Holy cow! My customers will have to spit out tartrate crystals for a few vintages until I can afford one of those! [cheers.gif]

That said, I've heard from much more experienced winemakers that barrel fermented whites tend to not shed as many crystals as the SS finished ones - is this something you've experienced?
Sabelli-Frisch Wines

Owner, proprietor and winemaker at Sabelli-Frisch Wines. I make wine from low-impact vineyards, focus on rare, forgotten, under-appreciated or historic grape varietals. Mission grape is my main red focus. IG: sabellifrisch

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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#11 Post by Stewart Johnson »

Adam Frisch wrote: August 5th, 2020, 6:46 pm
larry schaffer wrote: August 5th, 2020, 7:24 am Note that you can also get those tanks with glycol - something to consider in the case you want to use one for cold stability or controlling temperatures in the future.

Cheers.
I wanted that - until I checked the prices of glycol chillers! Holy cow! My customers will have to spit out tartrate crystals for a few vintages until I can afford one of those! [cheers.gif]

That said, I've heard from much more experienced winemakers that barrel fermented whites tend to not shed as many crystals as the SS finished ones - is this something you've experienced?
You might want to look at Penguin chillers as a starter unit. Significantly cheaper than the "real" winery chillers. I started with a 1hp water chiller for 2 or 3 years and moved to a 1hp glycol chiller last year that got about 4000L down to the mid 30s.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#12 Post by Adam Frisch »

Thanks Stewart - will check!
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#13 Post by John Oglesby »

If you filter you can also use that as another opportunity for blending. Ed's recommendation is the way to go. Just take your %'s and go off your tank chart measurements.

Just be warned that the tank charts that come from the manufacturer are rarely correct. ;)
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#14 Post by Steve Gower »

The stainless transport IBC's are one of the rare tanks that actually hold more than stated, at least in the two I have. Do you have a forklift? Its hard to beat gravity transfer by lifting. Of course at 550g you have to watch the capacity of your forklift. Mine are 470g which is accidentally ideal for use with my 5k forklift with a safety margin. When creating blends, having a couple of good plastic IBC's (275g or 300g) can be useful companions to the larger stainless one. I have racked 4 barrel into the plastic to homogenize, then gravity into the big tank after marking out the halfway point on the semi-transparent plastic tank. The are cheap used, just make sure they didn't have battery acid in them. They aren't good for storage but blending, settling, even fermenting, work great. But you get no style points, maybe even lose a couple.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#15 Post by Adam Frisch »

Thaks Steve! I do have a bunch of 330 and 275gal plastic totes. You're right - they're an eye-sore! I do have a forklift as well, but 550gal might be a push for it...
Sabelli-Frisch Wines

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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#16 Post by Steve Gower »

Stewart Johnson wrote: August 5th, 2020, 11:32 pm
I wanted that - until I checked the prices of glycol chillers! Holy cow! My customers will have to spit out tartrate crystals for a few vintages until I can afford one of those! [cheers.gif]

That said, I've heard from much more experienced winemakers that barrel fermented whites tend to not shed as many crystals as the SS finished ones - is this something you've experienced?
[/quote]
You might want to look at Penguin chillers as a starter unit. Significantly cheaper than the "real" winery chillers. I started with a 1hp water chiller for 2 or 3 years and moved to a 1hp glycol chiller last year that got about 4000L down to the mid 30s.
[/quote]
Another option is to configure your own chiller. I'm sure some will think I'm a bit nuts but the concept wasn't my idea. For years, brewers have been putting together chillers using window AC until and an ice chest. All the same components as a glycol chiller just cheaper build quality and a fraction of the price. I super sized the concept using an 18k btu AC unit/220V with the evaporate fan removed and the evaporator submerged in a glycol reservoir (aka ice chest). Added circ pumps, Ranco controls, and rewired everything. For about $1K I built a unit that will cold stabilize 300 gallons at (32F for a week). That's the most I have attempted during warm weather, not sure what the upper limit really is. Been using it for 4 years without any problems and its surprisingly energy efficient. Not a project for everyone but if you or a buddy with basic fab and wiring skills, its certainly do-able.
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Re: Winemakers/Cellar Rats: Is there a way to create one mixing tank by using multiple smaller tanks?

#17 Post by Michael S. »

Adam Frisch wrote: July 30th, 2020, 3:49 am Moved into my own space now, but it's a very small facility and space is a premium, so have a question for the professionals. Problem: I need to have a blending tank for bottling and homogenizing purposes. Probably around 1100-1200gal capacity. But then I found these square and stackable Stainless IBC tanks (see link), that would really help me maximize my space. But the biggest one is on only 550gal. So let's say I have two or thee of those - is there a clever way of pumping across, transferring and continually blending until you have a completely homogenized lot? Feels like almost a math problem - and I sucked at math.

I don't mind if it's a little more labour intensive, as it only happens a few times a year, but it does need to blend the wine fully.

https://www.thecarycompany.com/550-gall ... ifications

PS. When I think of this problem I keep recalling that scene in Die Hard 3 when they need to get 3gal into a jug to disarm the bomb, but they only have a 5gal or something.
Adam:

Not sure if you've solved for your problem or not. If not, there's a device out there called a 'manifold keg.' It's a 15 gallon keg with 8 equal in size outlets (the manifolds) that help help evenly distribute wine to multiple tanks (up to 8 tanks). I've used it to put together 5k-10K gallon blends in multiple tanks. It works really well when setup properly. DM me if you want more info, I'm happy to discuss and provide details on where to locate one.

Regards,

Michael
Owner & Winegrower Pezzato
Michael S a v a i a n o

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