Crossflow

The technology is not entirely new. In fact, crossflow filtration has been used in food processing since the 1960’s. It wasn’t until the 80’s when the wine world opened up to the idea, but early machinery was deemed to hard on delicate wines, stripping them of their personality.

Over the last several years, however, crossflow filtration has undergone a renaissance. Better design and improved technology have made this type of filtration much more popular in cellars. Many see it as the most efficient way to filter a wine, requiring less energy, time, and wine loss than the plate filters of old.

An extreme example: Filtrate on the left, filtered Rose on the right.

In essence, the machine works by pumping wine through a series of hollow tubes (picture a giant column full of what looks like pasta). The wine circulates through the many conduits, ridding itself of tiny unwanted solids on the lining of the tubes en route. Instead of pushing the wine through a membrane like in traditional filtration, crossflow circulates the wine continuously, preventing sediment clogging in the membranes. Many winemakers believe this type of filtration actually improves the aromatics and flavor of their wine.

The machinery (courtesy of Willamette Cross Flow)

We witnessed a significant change in our Pinot Gris Rose. Not only did the flavor and color improve, but the nose took on a cleaner, fruitier persona. Wines that spend a fair amount of time on the lees, like this one, really benefit from this type of soft and steady filtration. On top of clarity, microbial stability is at stake and crossflow filtration achieved both.

Stay tuned for our first 2011’s, the Pinot Gris, and Roses of Gris and Pinot Noir. We begin bottling these wines this week.

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