Medium Scale Production

For vintners ready to graduate to a larger and more effective system, Ken Kosmicki, Project Manager and Equipment Sales for Della Toffola Group, recommends an MTW crossflow filter. “These machines are able to filter for a variety of needs. They’re very effective for filtering high solids such as lees. Crossflow filters are the most popular machines nowadays.”

Ideal for filtering wine, must and vinegar, cross-flow filters rely on ceramic membranes to ensure an effective micro-filtering process. The hollow fiber membranes are either polypropylene or polyethersulfone, depending on the application. Both are resistant to a wide range of chemical agents, heat action and mechanical stress, thus requiring less filter change-out and repairs.

“We are able to filter out more difficult to filter particles,” Kosmicki said. “We can filter up to 30-35 percent of solids into the machine and give back 85-90 percent concentration.”

MTW crossflow filters are made with AISI 304-316L stainless steel with Viton silicone seals. They come in various sizes containing between two and 36 modules and can be customized to suit the winery’s needs. Also, unlike the plate and frame filter, the MTW crossflow filter is fully automated and does not need in-person monitoring.

“Our machines are fully automatic; they can be fully monitored via the internet with your Android cell phone or a tablet remotely. You set the volume of flow, press play and continue on with your day,” Kosmicki said. “Yes, the capital outlay is significant, but when you are doing a cost analysis, you have to keep in mind that you’re not paying someone to sit and monitor the machine for hours on end. Other systems are very labor intensive.”

The ability to monitor the machine from anywhere also has benefits when repairs are needed. “I’ve had many winemakers call me, and I’m able to analyze their system right from my cell phone. I can tell them what to do immediately. This saves the expense and time delay of waiting for a repair person to arrive,” said Kosmicki.

Automation also extends to maintenance as well. “Our machines are also auto-cleaning,” Kosmicki said. “You don’t need to have anyone around the winery to monitor the machine. It even runs a permeability test to show the operator how clean it is.

With proper care, the MTW will last for decades, according to Kosmicki. “We guarantee the membranes for ten years. I have some clients who have had their machines for twenty years, and they’re still running like a pro.”

Large Scale Production

Rotary drum vacuum technology is standard for large wineries as well as mobile services, but are appropriate for any size winery. These filters feature a stainless steel drum with a screen on the outside and a partial vacuum on the inside. The drum, coated with diatomaceous earth, provides the filter medium and is positioned in a trough through which the wine flows and traps any solids.

A drum vacuum system has a rate of production as fast as 1,000 gallons of lees per hour. The rotary vacuum can handle very sludgy lees without clogging, thanks to the automatic scraper blade that eliminates the waste substances with every turn of the drum.

A single electric control panel manages all inspections and adjustments for the drum vacuum. Winemakers can inspect the drum to ensure cleanliness and proper sterilization. Its aneuverability makes it easy to store when not in use.

A potential con to the drum vacuum system is that the diatomaceous earth can have a subtle but noticeable effect on the wine flavor, which may require further work by the winemaker. Also, some exposure to air is inevitable, risking oxidation.

Purchase Versus Rental

For those wineries who cannot afford larger machines, various companies throughout wine regions will bring their services to you. Winesecrets in Sebastopol, California is one such company, offering a variety of services, including testing. If you suspect something is wrong with your wine, but aren’t sure what, send a small lot to the Winesecrets Test Track to find out.

After conducting bench trials on multiple parameters, (often completed in one business day) they can ultrafilter the wine to intensify color, or, add or remove alcohol to perfect the wine’s structure. With their many different systems, they will come to your winery and help you handle your winemaking needs.