The Benefits of Implementing a Barrel Tracking System

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good wine barrel management program will not only involve optimized barrel stacking arrangements, but will include a barrel tracking system. As part of our wine barrel management blog series, BarrelWise is sharing the benefits of implementing a robust barrel tracking system.

Benefits of a barrel tracking system include:

  • Cellar organization: reduce the time you spend searching for barrels.
  • Knowing your cellar: identify locations that are connected to increased ullage.
  • Improving your wine quality control: identify and manage barrels that are exposed to unfavourable cellar conditions.

Why implement a barrel tracking system?

Optimized wine cellar organization

Wine cellar organization is key in any wine barrel management program, for small and large wineries alike. Organization of barrels increases barrel work efficiency by making the search for barrels and performing barrels tasks simple and easy.

Barrel tracking within the cellar can also help to keep your barrels organized within a lot or group of barrels. This allows work orders designated for specific lots to be carried out in less time due to the ease of searching for each barrel. Keeping a barrel lot contained within a localized space also ensures the barrels experience more consistent cellar conditions.

Find barrel locations linked to increased wine ullage

Tracking individual barrel locations allow you to find hot spots of environmental variability within your cellar. Cellar conditions like temperature and humidity play a significant role in the rate of wine evaporation, ullage, and wine oxidation. Tracking barrel locations along with tracking barrel ullage can provide insights into the different microclimates that form within the cellar. Insights like these can also help in optimizing investment in better temperature and humidity control systems when required.

Winemaker tasting wine near a stack of wine barrels.
A winemaker performing wine quality control to wine barrels in a cellar. Photo: Shutterstock
Wine quality control – Optimizing for temperature and humidity

Temperature plays an important factor in the cellar. Increased temperature can affect wine barrel maturation by increasing the rate that wine ages in barrel. Higher temperatures also increase the rate of FSO2 loss, putting your wine at further risk. Barrels at higher levels within a stack can experience a warmer temperature of up to 10 degrees Celsius then those below. An increase in temperature not only provide conditions for microbial growth, but the increased evaporation results in more frequent barrel topping and handling. Every time the bung seal is broken, is another opportunity for microbes to enter the barrel.

Image comparing lower evaporation rates in temperature controlled warehouse to a cave cellar.
BarrelWise ullage tracking data for a natural rock cellar (left) and temperature-controlled warehouse cellar (right). In the natural rock cellar temperature stratification occurs naturally in the summer. In the warehouse, the heating system activates at the ceiling and higher temperature stratification is observed.

BarrelWise ullage tracking data for a natural rock cellar (left) and temperature-controlled warehouse cellar (right). In the natural rock cellar temperature stratification occurs naturally in the summer. In the warehouse, the heating system activates at the ceiling and higher temperature stratification is observed.

Likewise, humidity also plays a role in altering the chemical composition of your wine. Wines ageing in conditions of higher humidity see less evaporation of water and more evaporation of ethanol. Conversely, at lower humidity levels more water evaporates from the wine, and ethanol concentration increases.

Optimizing your wine barrel management program to include barrel tracking can help you better control the quality of ageing wine. Once you find barrel locations linked to increased wine ullage, you should begin to investigate potential fluctuations in temperature and humidity. These data loggers are a great way to track temperature and humidity to individual barrel locations.

Data chart: evaporation barrel ullage vs. position in the stack, with higher ullage close to a source of heat.
BarrelWise ullage tracking data for the temperature-controlled warehouse shown above in the wintertime. Ullage analysis revealed a heating vent was causing a microclimate of evaporation. A diffuser is recommended to spread out the hot air flow and distribute it more evenly across the stacks.

Conclusion

Optimizing your wine barrel management program by implementing a barrel tracking system can benefit you and your aging wine. Tracking barrel locations can help improve wine cellar organization. You can also benefit by correlating barrel locations to barrel ullage, temperature, and humidity. Keeping track of all these factors can help you to improve your wine quality control program, and ultimately make better wine.


Contact us today to find out how we can help you utilize barrel location and ullage tracking to provide data-driven insights to your winery.