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Wine Filtration

The art of winemaking is supported by filters, especially during the final clarification and filling operations. Filters are used to remove particles that affect clarity and remove spoilage organisms like acetic acid bacteria (AAB) or lactic acid bacteria (LAB)that can affect flavor and shelf life. Filters are also used in process water used for washing or other operations and may also be used to protect product in tanks or to filter process gases.


The figure below shows the filters used during wine clarifying and bottling. The applications are described briefly below the figure and in more detail on our applications pages.

 

Filters in Wine Packaging

wine filtration diagram

Clarification

Removal of sediment and other suspended particles is critical to the initial stabilization of the wine before bottling. Unwanted particles and larger organisms are removed to reduce the amount of material that could create off flavors and aromas. The figure shows a 2 stage clarification process (housings 1 and 2).

Some winemakers may choose to use only 1 filter, depending on the level of particle and organism content at this stage of the process. Performed using depth filtration media, the filters trap progressively smaller particles at each stage.

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Bioburden Control Filters

Final stabilization requires removing the organisms that might spoil the wine after it has been bottled. There are many possible bacteria, molds and yeasts that could do that, but all can be removed just before bottling using membrane filters. Organisms can enter the bottle from two directions. The wine itself can carry organisms. The bottles can also bring organisms from the environment or from the water used to wash and rinse them.

Sterilizing is performed using a 2 stage filter process shown in the figure. The housing marked "4" is the first stage. It is usually a membrane filter with pore sizes of 0.80µm to 1.2µm. This filter captures the bulk of the organisms and protects the critical final filter from being overloaded and fouling prematurely.

The new High Capacity PES Membrane cartridge filters and capsule filters are examples of filters for bioburden control. Visit our Products page for more information.

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Sterilizing Filtration

Immediately before the wine is bottled, the final filter removes the last of the spoilage organisms. The result, if the correct filter is chosen, is a clear, bright wine with the complex character and depth desired by winemakers and consumers. The key is choosing a filter designed to allow flavor elements and color to pass while capturing the bacteria that could cause spoilage.

Filters used for this final step are usually membrane filters with 0.45μm or 0.65µm pore sizes. The filters are designed with membrane structures that will capture the bacteria, but allow color bodies and the particulates that contribute to the “feel” of the wine to pass. Each winemaker chooses based on testing and the nature of the organisms that must be removed.

Critical Process Filtration partners with winemakers to test and validate the performance of filter designs and to create filtration systems that produce the best wine in the most cost-effective way.

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Process Gas Filters

Normal atmosphere is not usually allowed to contact wine during fermentation, aging or storage. The oxygen can promote the growth of undesired organisms and also cause oxidation of wine elements that create undesired flavor changes. Normal air is replaced in tanks with process gases – usually nitrogen, carbon dioxide or a combination. As the tanks are filled or emptied, the process gas “blanket” is either forced out or pumped in.

As the wine is bottled, process gas is injected into the bottle to make sure that there is little to no oxygen that can contact the wine and create the potential for oxidation or mold growth. As with the tanks, nitrogen or carbon dioxide or a combination is used.

Filters (housings marked "3") assure that no particulates or bacteria are carried by the gas to the wine. In most facilities, hydrophobic 0.22µm membrane filters are used to make sure all bacteria are removed.

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To estimate the number of filters you will need for your application, use our unique sizing tools.

Contact Critical Process Filtration if you have any questions or wish to discuss a specific application about any of our Products and Services. We look forward to hearing from you!