Those that daydream of winemaking as a romantic encounter have probably never spent much time in a wine cellar making wine. The craft of winemaking is indeed an artful endeavor, chock full of sensory evaluations, and scientific decisions on how best to ferment, blend, and age the wine to be made. However, instead of donning your favorite pair of drivers or flats, you’ll want to slip on a good pair of rubber boots. Winemaking is basically cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. Winery hygiene is just as important as growing good grapes. Sometimes there are tools of the trade that can really assist winery staff do their job a little easier, and we are discussing one such tool in this write-up.
A new product by ARS/SWASH sanitizing equipment is being released (which should be available throughout North America by June 2017) that will greatly help to inspect the inside of an oak barrel. It is called the Swash BarrelScope. It is a scope that utilizes extremely high quality lenses and mirrors, that produce a slightly magnified image of the object being viewed through a focusing eyepiece. The eyepiece allows for adjustment to focus on varying distances when inspecting staves vs. heads, etc. The BarrelScope also incorporates a built-in 200 lumen LED light source, which is powered by 3 AAA batteries. The light has a lifespan of approximately 7 hours of continued use for each set of batteries.
This new tool by ARS was developed to alleviate the issue affiliated with not being able to adequately see the inside of an oak barrel to verify it has been cleaned properly. However, the BarrelScope is not just for cleaned/sanitized oak barrel verification. Coopers, winery, brewery, and distillery staff can also use it to inspect new or used oak barrels for quality assurance too. It is awesome that people can now visually inspect each individual stave and head after taking possession of a new barrel. This can greatly assist in quality verification of new products, and if there are any issues with a particular barrel, they can be addressed before the barrel has even been put to use.
Gone are the days of struggling to see the inside an oak barrel, with your head cocked awkwardly to the side, using a cheap flashlight that can barely illuminate the interior of each barrel. Life just got a lot easier in the cellar with the BarrelScope! This instrument will retail for $795.00, and will be packaged in a foam lined hard case. A belt holster is currently under development as well.
Here is a quote from Texas winemaker Todd Webster from Brennan Vineyards, with his thoughts on the BarrelScope, “This company is where we got our new steam cleaner from. I have a barrel wand to clean barrels with from this company. If we follow protocol on how to clean them with the wand, I should not need a scope to look inside there to make sure they are clean. Personally, I don’t think we need it since we use steam. However, if you only rinse with hot water, Sulphur, or other, it would be cool to see inside and make sure everything is clean, or to know you need to do more work on a certain barrel.”
Clean, inspect, and enjoy my fellow aficionados.