In the Rhone Valley in southeastern France, you can almost feel the centuries-old history growing alongside the vineyards. Ancient Greece first planted grapes in the region around the year 400 B.C. The area has come to be known as one of the finest Old World Wine Regions. While many of the methods for harvesting and fermenting the grapes have been modernized over the years, you can still find some techniques that go back to the beginning – including concrete wine tanks.
Concrete Wine Tanks? Really?
While the Ancient Greeks didn’t store their wine in what we would recognize as concrete today, they did use large clay vessels to store and transport the grapes as they fermented. Technology developed over the years, and the more modern concrete wine tanks can trace their origins back to the 19th Century in the Bordeaux region of France.
Today, concrete wine tanks are growing in popularity with prominent wineries across the globe, including Cave de Tain, located at the heart of the region. Fritz-Pak’s Gabriel Ojeda had an opportunity to see these impressive concrete wine tanks in person during a recent trip to southeastern France and was kind enough to bring back some incredible images.
Is Concrete Good for Wine Fermentation?
As technology and innovation have progressed, winemakers have discovered powerful benefits to fermenting their wines in concrete vessels. For decades, wine was fermented in oak barrels, which flavored the wine with an oaky aftertaste. This aftertaste is pleasant in some wines but not in others. So, vineyards transitioned to using stainless steel tanks. These tanks would not transfer any flavor to the wine, but they also didn’t allow oxygenation to occur. Concrete tanks are the perfect middle ground between these two materials. The concrete doesn’t transfer flavor to the wine, but the pores in the concrete allow for more controlled oxygenation.
Are Concrete Wine Tanks only found in Europe?
Concrete wine tanks started in Europe but can now be found globally and are growing in popularity in the United States. Among some of the most prominent American manufacturers of concrete wine tanks is Sonoma Cast Stone, located in California. Sonoma Cast Stone offers ten different styles of tanks for both domestic and international wineries.
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