There are a variety of ways to ferment and store wine nowadays: oak barrels, stainless steel tanks, glass containers, and plastic. Historically, before the 1600’s, wines were stored and sold in wooden barrels because glass bottles weren’t around yet. And although we’ve outgrown the necessity for barrels to store and transport wine, we have developed a taste for it and oak barrels are still a part of modern winemaking.
Here at Gainey Vineyards we only use two methods to ferment and store wine: oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. And we consistently use the same method each time we make a certain wine. For example, our Riesling and Estate Sauvignon Blanc are always aged in 100% stainless steel and ALL of our red wines get 100% barrel aged. Our Estate Chardonnay and Limited Sauvignon Blanc get a combination of both to enhance certain flavors and textures that our winemaker is looking for stylistically.
Oak Barrels impart flavor and structure into the wine because there is a slow exchange of oxygen and water that mingles with the lignin (organic substance binding the cells, fibers and vessels which constitute wood) in the wood. Depending on the type of wood, each barrel can have a diverse effect on the wine. Aging wine in barrels also allows for certain metabolic reactions to occur which results in creamier, smoother-tasting wine.
Stainless steel tanks also make great containers for wine because they have neutrality of flavor. They keep out all light and are also airtight. One benefit of using stainless steel tanks is that no additional aromatic components are conveyed into the wine, which allows our winemaker to capture the true essence of the varietal. This can create a more pure and refreshing type of wine.
So next time you stop in for a tasting at Gainey Vineyards or our boutique winery Evan’s Ranch, ask about how the wine was aged to get a little more insight into the flavor of what your tasting.