When To Go Stainless?

Oak barrels have been used to store and age wine for centuries, so it’s not surprising that there are still a lot of questions floating around about the stainless steel alternatives. Despite having been around the wine scene for decades, stainless steel wine barrels still feel relatively new.

If you’re exploring the alternatives to oak barrels and have questions about stainless steel wine barrels, don’t hesitate to ask. The Skolnik team is happy to discuss your winemaking goals and processes and help you determine whether our stainless steel wine barrels can add value to your business.

Let’s start the conversation here for a moment.

When should you use a stainless steel wine barrel? Are they only for specific types of wine? What can stainless steel do for my operation?

The single most attractive element of stainless steel wine barrels is the economic advantage. Stainless steel barrels are growing more common in wineries for a variety of reasons, but the most obvious are the cost, water and resource savings. Steel wine barrels are much cheaper than their oak counterparts and leave a much smaller impact on the environment. From year to year, oak is scarce as is the water required for oak to grow and survive – stainless steel is easily manufactured and plentiful.

Additionally, stainless steel barrels are easier to clean and reuse. Proper cleaning and sanitation of an oak barrel takes a lot of water, and, in the end, you can only use it so many times before it will start to deteriorate or leave unwanted notes in your wine. Ultimately, a winery will get more use out of a stainless steel wine barrel than an oak barrel at a lower price point and with less water consumption.

Winemakers still debate whether or not the oaking process can be adequately replicated using oak alternatives in a stainless steel wine barrel, but the usefulness of stainless steel wine barrels is never called into question. Wineries around the world have turned to stainless steel wine barrels for odd batches, over flow and experimentation. There are many wines, white wines in particular, that neither require nor desire an oaky flavor. You can add oak chips to a stainless steel barrel, but you can’t take the oak out of an oak barrel. Thus, stainless steel provides the freedom and flexibility to experiment and craft a whole new range of wines.

Indeed, as stainless steel wine barrels increase in popularity the question starts to be why not use a stainless steel wine barrel.