Winemaking: using barrels, foudres, clay amphorae, and stainless steel or cement tanks

The winemaking process, also known as vinification, consists of various processes that when put together transform the must or juice of the grape into a fermented alcoholic beverage, also known as wine.

The winemaking process has undergone changes and innovations over the years, reaching a level of hyper-industrialization that however, manages to maintain the essence of the process. One of the most important steps in the process is the storing or conservation of the wines. This can take place in a variety of materials and recipients like foudres, barrels, amphorae, and tanks.

Winemaking tools: from the vineyard to the table

Once the grapes have been harvested, and their juice, or must, extracted, it must be adequately prepared in order to produce wine. This can be a long process that may require years, until the bottle is finally opened.


Barrels are made of wood and generally hold 220 liters of wine. They are used for aging a wine, adding oxygen, texture, and aromas that lower the intensity of the flavors.

They are made from oak, as this allows for the texture of the wine to stabilize and smooth out, with the tannins polymerizing and lending a smoother sensation in the mouth. The barrels also allow the wine to micro-oxygenate, which helps the wine evolve. It’s important to note that the barrels have the capacity to perform this function for many years, but the influence of the oak diminishes while the micro-oxygenation properties remains.


Foudres are wooden vessels with larger capacities than a standard barrel, and can be used to store and age wine. In general they range in size from 2,500 to 5,000 liters. A wine that has spent time in foudres will have less oak influence than in a barrel, so the characteristics of the terroir and grape are more evident. Additionally, the wines have a slower evolution since the micro-oxygenation is less in a foudre than a barrel.

Clay amphorae

Storing wine in clay amphorae is a rediscovery of an ancient tradition, as it’s something that was done in the time of the Phoenicians. Although it’s less common to use this method for storing wine, it has remained in use over time.

In Antiquity, the Romans sealed their amphorae with resin and lime, and today other materials are used, such as stainless steel or plastic. Conserving wine in these vessels can be an alternative to barrels, although it means different flavors and aromas will be imparted in the wine, as the process is more natural and earthly.

Stainless steel tanks

Stainless steel tanks have been designed for maximum cleanliness, there is no passing of oxygen through its walls, and it impedes the passage of gas and energy. It does not impart aromas like oak does.

Cement tanks

This type of vessel has a micro-porosity that allows the wine to micro-oxygenate, without leaving residues of any kind, thanks to the fact that cement is a neutral material. Additionally, it is more insulating than stainless steel, allowing for the wine to maintain a stable temperature during its making.

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