7 tips for setting up climate control wine storage
As a wine producer who needs to store wine for long periods, how do you go about maintaining a consistent temperature, given that each season provides challenges for both hot and cold temperature?
According to Penfolds: "Poorly stored wines may not retain their original freshness and will most likely develop faster and less predictably than bottles that have enjoyed a constant, steady maturation process in a temperature-controlled cellar or wine cabinet."
"Wine is especially vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature. It is always best to transport wine in cool conditions and to store wine in an environment that minimises temperature variation."
Climate control wine storage offers a convenient, affordable means to allow your wine to mature to its full potential. This is not just for the big collectors; wine enthusiasts of all sizes use wine storage facilities, as well as wine merchants, restaurants and boutique wineries.
The importance of maintaining consistent temperature for storing wine
According to Fine Wine Reserve:
"The ideal temperature for wine storage is somewhere between 11°C and 14°C. Note that there is an acceptable temperature range - but once chosen, temperature must not fluctuate."
Wine is a complex and fragile balance of amino acids, phenols, carbohydrates and other chemical compounds. The process of aging wine is a series of different chemical reactions between these compounds and minute quantities of oxygen in the bottle from when it was corked, plus minute amounts allowed to enter through the cork over time. These reactions are easily affected by physical and chemical changes taking place in the environment, particularly temperature.
Since the speed of the average chemical reaction increases with temperature (the rate doubles for every 10°C increase in temperature), wine hardly ages at all if stored below about 10°C. Store it at 25°C, and an age-worthy wine that would normally require ten years of careful aging, may be past its prime in just a few months."
Wine warehouse storage needs to be a temperature stable facility with insulation and air conditioning that provides temperature maintenance for both short- and long-term storage of palletised wine.
Temperature stability in all-weather loading bays, for example, means that your stock is protected at all times and in all conditions, even during loading and unloading.
With all that in mind, here's what to think about when outfitting your wine storage warehouse.
1) Temperature and humidity
There is more to preserving wine than just temperature; humidity is crucial also. If wine is stored in conditions that are too dry, the corks will shrink and cause leakage. If conditions are too moist, mould and contamination may occur. This is why wine storage is climate controlled, to maintain stable humidity within a range that will prevent damage to the cork and also assist in the development of your wine.
Ensure you can maintain constant temperatures, even during winter and summer. Have systems in place to check the temperature of different areas of the warehouse, since the temperature could be quite different nearest the warehouse perimeter compared to the middle at floor level. Aim to keep to the constant recommended 12°C to 16°C and 55-75% relative humidity.
It's also crucial to think about the warehouse doors. If wine is stored near the doors, it will be affected by steel roller shutters which open and close slowly. This means that during the summer months, the area nearest the standard roller shutters will be much warmer.
Your warehouse will be better off using insulated compact sectional doors or better yet, insulated high speed rapid doors or insulated dock doors. These doors will give you a much better chance of maintaining the correct internal temperature.
Some warehouses offer both ambient and climate control areas available for both commercial grade wines and super premium wines with appropriate rate segmentation.
2) UV exposure / LED lighting
The ideal environment for wine storage also involves zero UV exposure, preferably with the exclusive use of LED lighting throughout. Wine storage should also feature zero vibration and be dust and emission free.
Because of the value of wine, security is vital. What security procedures do you have in place? What type of monitoring and after hours systems exist? Do you have 24/7 monitored security system with surveillance cameras?
Again, think about your facility's doors, to ensure they are vandal resistant and robust enough to withstand forced entry. Conventional roller shutters can be easily forced open by levering the door up, whereas some doors such as the compact sectional door have integrated locking systems that prevent levered entry.
Consider fire safety precautions for your warehouse too. In 2005 an arson attack destroyed billions of dollars worth of collectable wine at Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo, California.
Some of the world’s finest wine was stacked on pallets, “40 feet (12 metres) high stretched the length of two football fields.” A blaze which took firefighters eight hours to control destroyed “more than 4.5 million bottles of premium wine” worth nearly half a billion dollars on the retail market. “It was the greatest crime involving wine in history.”
4) Hygiene and pest control
Hygiene is not always top of the list in terms of wine storage, since the product itself is contained; yet hygiene for wine storage is vital to ensure stock reaches customers in pristine condition.
Customers will certainly not be happy to receive a case of wine with rat or bird droppings and chewed wine labels - especially given that they may have paid hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for it! The condition and pest control procedures of your warehouse will play a big part in maintaining good hygiene.
In terms of pest control procedures, when doorways are open for deliveries or drop off, consider strip doors to help prevent birds and flies from sneaking in when trucks and forklifts are coming through doorways, or large industrial air curtains on door openings to help prevent dust, odours and birds.
5) Handling and quarantine
Who can enter your site? What quarantine systems are in place? How often will your wine be moved around onsite? Vibration is a problem for maturing wine, as frequent jolts or vibrations during its development can be detrimental.
In terms of quarantine areas, one option is to provide air lock areas on entry and exit. Not only does an air lock help to contain vehicles before entering site, it also helps to prevent large gusts of wind and dust passing through.
6) POS distribution
When considering your Point of Sale distribution, think about whether storage is available by ¼, ½ or full pallet and/or cases of 1/2/3/6 and 12 bottles. What sort of quantities do you think you will need going forward? Does your warehouse have the ability to manage stock with complete accuracy and transparency with an online Wine Management Portal Account / WineTrack inventory software or similar?
7) Picking and packing
Functionality for ease of access to stock for mail order, promotional and restaurant orders is important. Ensure you set up a full pick and pack service from single bottles, to mixed cases, and individual cartons.
Accuracy and quick access on site can mean all the difference to making your customers happy. Does your warehouse have automation which ensures that they can quickly turnaround orders? High speed rapid doors or automated rapid doors all help to move products quickly.
Find out more about maintaining consistent wine storage conditions
To find out more about the ideal doors for your warehouse, contact Remax Doors online or call us on 1800 010 221.
Wine storage case study:
Insulated compact sectional doors at a winery in Moama.
Click here to read about the full project.