During the winemaking process, it is critical that wine is protected from contact with oxygen. The presence of oxygen promotes the growth of yeast and aerobic bacteria, which can cause spoilage and alter final product aroma, color, and taste. Nitrogen minimizes the levels of oxygen present, preserving flavors and significantly improving shelf life. It is an essential tool in helping to alleviate the issues caused by the presence of oxygen and has become the preferred technology because it is economical and inert. Nitrogen, unlike Argon, can provide a continuous bleed to blanket storage tanks. A nitrogen generator, which separates nitrogen and oxygen from a compressed air supply, can often be the most cost economical way to supply nitrogen.
Groth Vineyards, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc producer in Napa Valley, uses nitrogen to rack wines, sparge tanks, and assist in the bottling process. Nitrogen is used throughout its process to ensure product quality.
Nitrogen was originally supplied by a local gas company delivered in cylinders and dewars. Fluctuations in usage requirements would frequently cause the winery to run out of nitrogen. This created not only an inconvenience but also an economic concern as production had to be suspended until more nitrogen could be delivered.
Parker Hannifin was selected to supply a gas generator that would provide a continuous nitrogen stream for each of their processes. Ease of operation, minimal maintenance requirements, and return on investment (ROI) were important factors in their decision. Parker gas generators are designed for trouble-free operation, 24 hrs/day, 365 days/year. Installation was simple, as compressed air was piped in and the generator was connected to their existing nitrogen piping. The annual maintenance requirements were straightforward and inexpensive.
Nitrogen can be beneficial at several stages in the wine production process, some of which are outlined below.
The price of Parker nitrogen is constant. Delivered nitrogen is subject to pricing increases, rental agreements, hazmat fees, delivery surcharges, local and state taxes, etc. A nitrogen generator offers long-term price stability.
Grow without added expenses. Adding more hours of production does not increase the size of the nitrogen generator needed.
Replace intermittent Argon blanketing with continuous nitrogen purging.
Nitrogen has a very low boiling point and is continuously evaporating when supplied as a liquid in bulk or dewars. It can cost thousands of dollars if these gases are not captured.
A nitrogen generator eliminates the contracts required from bulk gas suppliers. No more automatic renewals, automatic increases, or a one year written notice for contract termination.
Ease of installation - pipe in compressed air and pipe out nitrogen. Contrast this with the installation requirements for a bulk tank, including a concrete pad, fence, permit fees, and significant square footage.
Complete start-up and testing procedures at the factory prior to delivery.
Very little maintenance or monitoring is required once the generator is up and running. Simple and straightforward operation.
Proven technology with numerous references available. Over 50,000 successful generator installations worldwide.
Groth Vineyards recommends a Parker Hannifin nitrogen generator for improved efficiency, ease of use, and trouble-free operation.
“Our objective was to find a safe system of putting extra pressure onto the delivery pipeline. Moving the juice and skins using a pump alone has caused problems in the past. The introduction of the Parker Nitrogen Generator has taken a lot of the strain off the pump and was very economical.”
Chris Roux, co-operative manager, Wamakersvallei Winery, South Africa
"All of our bottling plants have a compressed air installation, we utilize the Parker Nitrogen Generator to capitalize on this resource and do away with continual purchases of cryogenic gas. Our aim is to maximize production efficiencies while ensuring high standards that give customers the edge when their wines are marketed overseas.”
Ian Matthews, managing director, Portavin, Melbourne, Australia
This post was contributed by Randy Peccia, product sales manager, Parker Hannifin Gas Separation and Filtration Division.