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Question subject

Date Asked

Winery Design

June 21, 2012
Question by: Sofia, Madrid, Spain

Q:

I´m working on an architectural project of a port winery, for a spanish university. I´d love to know some doubts I still have after looking out throughout millions of websites. I´d really appreciate it if you could answer them to me.

1.  I´ve seen one of the improvements in wineries is to carry out the process by using only gravity, instead of using hydraulic pumps.  Is this system suitable for making port wine?

2.  Do the tanks for keeping the must after fortification have to be in a separate room (because of the temperature and humidity) from the tanks where the fortification is carried out in? I mean, the temperatura and humidity are different in both cases?

3. How do you fill the "pipas" from the tanks? Is it neccesary to use pumps for doing it?

4.  How do you fill the "balseiros" and "toneis"? The same way to fill the "pipas"?

5.  How do you transport the must from the "pipas" to the bottling line?

A:

Hi Sofia, Traditionally Douro wineries were built into hillsides and relied on gravity to move the must from the lagares in the uppermost level, where the grapes were trodden, into the casks on a lower level where the must was fortified with the aguardente and then stored for the winter.  At Quinta do Vesuvio we still tread by foot in stone lagares from which the wine is drained primarily by gravity into the toneis on the lower level - if you look at the Vesuvio Brand Profile there are photos of treading in the lagares and of the toneis in the lower level of the winery.  At Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos and Dow's Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira we still have stone lagares which can be used in this way, if necessary - I remember visiting the Senhora da Ribeira winery just as the team were shovelling the cap out of the stone lagar after running off the must one morning during the harvest of 2010.

Generally, however, we make our ports in modern lagares and use a combination of gravity and a pump system to move the must out of the lagares and into the fortification tanks, and then from the fortification tank into the casks where the young Port will rest over the winter in the Douro.  If you want to see step by step photos of how this works, go to Graham's Blog:  during the 2010 Harvest we wrote a series of articles about A Grape's Journey, and the article In The Lagar has a photo gallery with explanations of each step.  Alternatively, in 2011 we made a video of the run off of a lagar of Tinta Roriz.

There is no temperature control for the winery buildings beyond the natural effect of being built of stone and set into a hillside.  Our modern lagares incorporate cooling systems, which are described in the In the Lagar blog article.  Where temperature becomes more important is in the ageing of the Ports.  For this reason, the ports have always remained in the Douro over the winter after harvest, so they can "fall bright" in their casks, and in the late winter or early spring the wine is moved down to Vila Nova de Gaia to be aged in our Lodges.  This has been traditional since Port was first made, as ageing in the cooler more humid climate where the Douro runs into the Atlantic is much more gentle than ageing in the dry heat of the Douro, which can easily reach 40ºC or more over the summer, particularly in the easternmost part of the region.

In terms of transporting the wine to and from the casks and bottling line, we do use pump systems.  When Port is moved from our Lodge to our bottling plants the wine is gently racked out of the casks - that is, the clear wine is run off and any lees left behind in the cask - into a tanker lorry which then takes it to our nearby bottling plant.

To learn more about our winemaking you might want to review the Winemaking article under the Port Basics tab here on The Vintage Port Site and read the Graham's Blog, particularly our harvest coverage:  a list of all articles about Harvest 2010  or  a list of all articles from Harvest 2011.



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