Produce Better Wine - Clean and Sanitise Your Winery!


We would say that.  But we’re not the only ones.  

Dharmadhikari argues that “Cleaning and sanitation is crucial to producing quality wine”  (Dharmadhikari, 1999).  

Oelofse states “…general poor cellar hygiene along with improper cleaning and sanitisation of barrels – a critical source of Brettanomyces/ Dekkera contamination of wine…” (Oelofese, 2008).

Rankine makes a very valid point when he presented that “…the presence of contamination, whether microbiological or otherwise, during the making and maturation of wine can result in a lowering of quality” (Rankine, 2004).

 He went on to state that consumers have a right to expect wine “…is made from sound grapes in a clean winery” (Rankine, 2004).  

Fair enough.  So it’s clearly not just us at AIRD.  Cleaning and sanitation is important because it enables wine producers to control what comes into contact with their wine.  There is overwhelming evidence that states cleaning and sanitation in wine production significantly reduces the risk of taint by yeast, microbes and bacteria.  Two basic processes are cleaning and sanitising and we have outlined a quick re-cap of both processes below.

“Cleaning is the complete removal of food soils/solids using appropriate detergent chemical under recommended conditions” (Schmidt, 2009).  

Most cleaning in wineries is CIP (clean in place) and involves a circulation of a solution through a spray ball.  As wine is acidic, alkaline cleaning agents are used to break down tartar and other organic particles remaining in the tank.  Simple enough - however there are some chemicals to be wary of when cleaning in the cellar.  Products that contain silicates (sodium metasilicate or disodium metasilicate) will create a chemical film in tanks that can enable bugs to persist, and chemicals that do not contain sufficient surfactants will leave protein in the tank that can lead to a biofilm (Schmidt, 2009).  Cleaning regularly ensures that you don't have bio-films in your tanks and will enable you to rest easy knowing that a risk of taint has been eliminated.

“Sanitise refers to the reduction of microorganisms to levels considered safe from a public health viewpoint.” (Schmidt, 2009)

Sanitation is different from cleaning.  Sanitation takes place after cleaning and refers to the reduction of micro-organisms (it is reduction as opposed to elimination of all micro-organisms which is sterilisation).

Sanitation can be achieved through chemicals or through temperature.  Thermal sanitation involves the use of hot water or steam for a specified time period and chemical sanitation involves the use of an approved chemical sanitiser at a specified concentration and contact time (Schmidt, 2009).

Chemical sanitisers usually will work through oxidation or pH and are usually acidic (stabilised peroxy-acids). For wineries the reduction in micro-organisms, yeasts and bacteria through sanitation can significantly reduce the risk of wine taint caused by bugs. Sanitisers take care of what can’t be seen - and is a further measure that wine producers can use to control what their wines come into contact with in their tanks at a microscopic level.

There are significant benefits to be had from a bit of elbow grease and common sense.  Working smarter with your cleaning and sanitation protocols will ensure that you’re wine isn’t at risk of taint this vintage.  Like to know more - check out our products here


A. Oelofse et al, 2008, “Significance of Brettanomyces and Dekkera during Winemaking: A Synoptic Review”, Institute for Wine Biotechnology, Stellenbosch University, Matieland (Stellenbosch), The Australian Wine Research Institute

Bryce Rankine, 2004, “Making Good Wine”, McMillian Company, pg 225

Murli Dharmadhikari, 1999, “Importance of Cleaning and Sanitation in the Winery, Vineyard and Vintage View”, Mountain Grove MO

Ronald H. Schmidt, 2009, “Basic Elements of Equipment Cleaning and Sanitizing in Food Processing and Handling Operations”, FS14 is one of a series of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date July 1997. Revised March 2009. Reviewed January 2012