November 15, 2007
"Top 11" Products for the Small Winery

Make better wine, save money, conserve space and work more efficiently with these 11 pieces of equipment suited for the small winery.

by Alison Crowe

Small wineries, those under 10,000 cases, have to be extremely selective in the kind and amount of equipment they buy. Often hampered by budgets and a lack of physical space, micro-producers need to make sure that what they do buy is versatile, emphasizes quality (small producers tend to have higher retail price points) and doesn't take up too much space. Though many pieces of equipment will be the same among large and small wineries (tanks, hoses, pumps, fittings, barrels, basic lab equipment, for instance), the smaller producer sometimes has special needs and must therefore make strategic equipment purchases that will maximize their dollars spent as well as benefit the overall quality of their operation.

The following is my "Top 11" (or to quote Spinal Tap, "Ours go to 11," as opposed to the usual 10) list of equipment, especially suited to small, high-quality wineries. I've purposefully left out the obvious. We all need some way to destem our red berries, press our reds and whites, and move the must or juice around the winery. I'm going to assume we've all got the uber-basics like presses, a pump or two, some fermentations vessels, enough barrels to store our hard-won juice as well as some basic lab equipment like a pH meter, some hydrometers and the international intern or two to keep track of it all. Some pieces mentioned here (imported intern not withstanding) are rather expensive while others cost just hundreds of dollars (like Macro Bins™). All of them, however, will help smaller wineries make better wine, save money, conserve space, work more efficiently or all of the above. The intern, if he or she is worth their wages, will help you make better barbeque in addition to better wine.


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