There’s a common saying bandied around among winemakers that 80% of great winemaking is cleanliness. It is the least glamorous part of winemaking but essential to the process, keeping microbes in check by removing areas of deposit. It is important to manage on an ongoing basis.

It is particularly important to clean machinery, pipes and tanks that have not been used pre-harvest first through the removal of the deposits and detritus that can allow microbes to grow and secondly by sanitising the cleaned equipment, reducing microbe cell counts to an acceptable limit. It is critical to note that cleaning agents carry a high safety risk due to their nature, so it is important to wear appropriate PPE when using the products and maintain good health and safety practices in the winery.

Cleaning agents

Traditional surfactants, traditionally alkaline base, modify the pH of the liquid and will disrupt the surface tension between the liquid and the solid allowing the solid build up to be dissolved in the liquid water. The particles are then dispersed in the liquid and can then be removed through rinsing. Typically these compounds are also aggressive and can damage seals and attack metals as well as the deposits so have to be used with caution.

Enzymatic cleaning agents function in a similar way, breaking down the cell walls and deposits and allowing deep cleaning with oxidative power without damaging the filtering materials. A new range of Decapol, Deepclean, Extralife and Stone clear are now available to use with filtration devices allowing good cleaning protocols to be followed without the risk of traditional surfactants. Enzymatic detergent specifically formulated to act on the organic residues that remain in the filtering units after wine filtration. The enzymatic cocktail allows a deep clean without changing the structure of the filtering materials. Its high oxidative power (300 ppm at 1%) boosts the elimination of the tannin and polyphenolic residues from red wine filtration.

Sanitising agents

Decapoxy 5 is a peracetic acid, PAA; CH3CO3H which efficiently kills microbes at low doses and has low levels of residual concentration while breaking down to a harmless form of acetic acid, oxygen and water. The mechanism is the same as hydrogen peroxide oxidising organic material and disrupting protein structures but has a higher oxidative capacity rapidly breaking down a plethora of organisms including moulds, bacteria, yeast and algae.

Maintaining good winery hygiene is critical to making good wine and frequent cleaning makes life a lot easier than leaving the cleaning to the last minute.