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SKOLNIK INDUSTRIES

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Address

4900 S Kilbourn Ave
Chicago
IL, 60632
United States
Phone
(773) 735-0700
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Dean Ricker

DEMANDING CONTAINMENT NEEDS

SKOLNIK is an independently owned manufacturer located in Chicago, Illinois. Since 1985, we strive to be the leading stainless steel wine barrel manufacturer as measured by our customer relationships and product dependability. We are driven to exceed customer satisfaction and are known as the foremost problem solving manufacturer in our industry. We focus on excellence in technology, quality, applications engineering, sales and marketing. Our emphasis on continuous improvement of our business enables us to better benefit our customers.

Our expanded line of Stainless Steel Wine Barrels includes over 50 different styles and configurations from 5 gallons up to 124 gallons.

STAINLESS STEEL WINE BARRELS


Fine winemakers around the globe are turning to steel cooperage because of its product integrity, longevity and material purity. Innovative Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels are designed for all stages of development, fermentation and maturation. Use them to complement your oak barrelsfor storage, aging, topping-off, experimentation or when oak notes are undesirable. Our 55 Gallon Barrels are designed to fit standard barrel racks for wine. We also offer stainless steel fittings to aid in micro-oxygenation, for better control of tannins, color stability and aroma integration. To learn more, visit skolnikwine.com.

Stainless steel excels in terms of product integrity, longevity and purity of materials, which makes this product ideal for wineries and vineyards. 

 

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 5-124 US Gallons
  • Steel Thickness, 0.9-1.5mm (20-16 gauge)
  • Closures: Tri-Clover and Tri-Sure
  • Product Code: S
75 gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel with Bilge
75 gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel with Bilge
55 gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
55 gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
25 gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
25 gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel

News Archive


Stainless Steel Stemware
25 October, 2018

Here at Skolnik, we’re constantly preaching the benefits of stainless steel in the wine world. Sure, we are a little biased because we manufacture stainless steel wine barrels, but stainless steel and wine’s relationship isn’t just a passing phase.

Stainless steel fermentation tanks have been a staple of winemaking for a long, long time, but in the past several years we’ve seen stainless steel pop up even more throughout the winemaking and wine drinking experience. Stainless steel wine barrels and kegged wine continue to grow in popularity, and then there’s the most recent popular use for stainless steel in wine: drinkware.

We’ve seen stainless steel tumblers, stainless steel cooling sticks, and so much more. The latest stainless steel drinkware? Stainless steel wine glass with a lid. This bad boy is bringing stemware sophistication to the stainless steel tumbler world. The steel is double walled to keep your wine the right temperature and the lid creates an air-tight seal keeping your wine fresher for longer (and helping prevent spills).

Food grade stainless steel has numerous industrial applications in food processing, shipment and storage. It’s always neat to see how product designers and innovators are using it in consumer goods.


Oaking Beyond the Barrel
26 September, 2018

It’s no wonder that oak barrels have a long history in winemaking; oak emparts a rich flavor onto wines, a flavor that, for some palates, is synonymous with wine itself. However, since stainless steel wine barrels and other containers have risen in popularity, oaked wine hasn’t gone anywhere. That’s because there are plenty of ways to oak wine without an expensive oak barrel.

In a recent article in VinePair, food and drink writer Tim McKirdy referred to oak as ‘winemakers’ salt.’ No matter how one oaks a wine, it is crucial that the oak flavors don’t dominate the flavor. Bare minimum, one should be able to taste the grape. But the salt analogy really comes to life when considering oak alternatives such as staves or chips.

Oak staves are long strips of toasted oak that are used to oak wine even in stainless steel fermenting tanks. Oak chips are just that, chips of toasted oak, often wrapped in a sort of cheese cloth ‘tea bag’ and added to fermenting wine. Both are significantly less expensive than utilizing an oak barrel.

Cost is just one advantage oak alternatives have over barrel-aging. There’s also the accessibility and sustainability of using stainless steel. And, while there are benefits to barrels that you cannot replicate with an oak alternative – oak barrels are porous, for example, and allow a natural amount of oxygenation to influence the wine throughout fermentation whereas stainless steel is airtight – each of those pros has a partner con – oak barrels impart additional, and perhaps unwanted, tannins and flavors to wine as well.

The choice between using an oak barrel or oak alternatives and stainless steel is just one of many decisions winemakers have to make when approaching an oaked wine. Regardless of which way they go, a winemaker will also have to choose what type of oak, how it has been treated, cured or toasted, and how much time the oak will be in contact with the wine.

When you breakdown a wine ‘recipe,’ McKirdy’s analogy rings true. Oak really is the salt of winemaking. Just as a chef considers how to season a meal, careful not to over or under salt it, faced with a variety of salt options and techniques, winemakers must do the same with oak.


Has Wine Finally Left the Oak Barrel Behind?
30 August, 2018

Wine hasn’t always been aged in oak barrels. In fact, wine greatly predates the oak barrels, and the advent of the oak wine barrel was primarily transportation-driven (you can read more about that on a past blog series). Other early tanks-of-the-trade were ceramic or clay. While these tools did a good job of protecting the wine from light, they were heavy, fragile and impractical for travel. Thus, when the oak barrel came around, the earthen tanks faded out.

However, in today’s modern wine industry, oak barrels are becoming a thing of the past. And, surprisingly, the two most popular materials in winemaking are the ultra-modern stainless steel and concrete tanks that are highly reminiscent of old clay/ceramic tools.

Stainless steel may not have been available to early winemakers, but it has solidified itself as a staple of the modern wine industry. Stainless steel tanks are commonly used across beverages for brewing beer, distilling spirits and fermenting wine grapes. Additionally, stainless steel wine barrels or stainless steel wine drums, have increased in popularity over recent decades.

Stainless steel wine barrels can be ordered in a variety of sizes and configurations and give winemakers an opportunity to experiment and make smaller batches of wine without worry of wasted resources. Oak barrels have grown prohibitively expensive and are far less customizeable. Furthermore, the sleek stainless steel is easier to clean, sanitize and reuse making it as environmentally friendly as it is economical. But a solution is only strong if it works for the job, and stainless steel works hard — giving winemakers absolute control over oxidization and flavor.

So how do concrete tanks stack up? Well, first of all, they don’t stack up. Concrete is a re-emerging trend in winemaking, but only in the fermentation process, whereas stainless steel can be utilized throughout aging, storage and distribution. And unlike stainless steel, concrete tanks trap small pockets of air, exposing wine to oxygen. If you’re looking for a crisp, clean white wine, this might be a negative. But, if you can relinquish the control stainless steel gives you, you might appreciate the added dash of character allowed by this limited oxidization. Just like stainless steel, concrete doesn’t impart any flavors onto the wine, but this small amount of oxygen creates fruit-forward wines with a little more minerality and texture. True, you can achieve similar results with stainless steel, but for the winemaker who wants to be a little bit more hands-off and/or old-fashioned, concrete is a definite option.

Whether you choose to play in stainless steel, concrete or both, you’ll be playing in a larger sandbox than allowed with oak barrels. Oak may have been a long-time favorite of the winemaking industry, but between the cost, carbon-footprint and unpredictability of aging and storing wine in oak barrels, it is unsurprising that the creative and cutting-edge winemakers of today are thinking outside the traditional barrel.

Check out Skolnik Industries stainless steel tanks here


Oak, Steel & Beyond: Where a Chardonnay gets its Flavors
26 April, 2018

Despite a stint of stigma, Chardonnay is the most popular variety of wine in America. But a Chardonnay can be a lot of different things. There are any number of different flavors and approaches to a Chardonnay – the most common including oak, butter, fruit or mineral flavors. But while it may seem obvious that an oaked Chardonnay gets its oakiness from oak, there are many ways for a winemaker to shape a Chardonnay.

To be a Chardonnay, a wine simply has to be made with primarily Chardonnay grapes. Many California Chardonnays are made with only 75% Chardonnay grapes. How they evolve beyond that is completely up to the winemaker.

Buttery wines, for example, get their flavor from malolactic fermentation. A process that takes place after primary fermentation. Maloactic fermentation converts the malic acid into lactic acid, which gives the wine a buttery, dairy taste.

Crisp and tangy Chardonnays are unoaked, and typically fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. Stainless steel doesn’t impart any flavors on to the wine, though the wine can still undergo maloactic fermentation and grow buttery in flavor. If the winemaker can avoid maloactic fermentation, they are left with a highly controllable product — a blank slate of Chardonnay goodness to which they can add any fruity or experimental flavors.

Oaky or toasty Chardonnays are, of course, flavored with oak. But nowadays winemakers have a number of oak options to choose from. There’s the traditional oak barrel route, or an oak alternative such as staves and chips. Oak alternatives are increasingly more popular as winemakers have started to explore the benefits of fermenting and aging their Chardonnays in stainless steel barrels.

Stainless steel wine barrels, like the ones we offer here at Skolnik, have offered winemakers an unparalleled opportunity to play, experiment and truly control their art. Lucky for us wine-lovers, the result is a seemingly endless variety of flavors of Chardonnay!


Visit Skolinik at the 2018 Unified Wine Symposium
12 December, 2017

Third generation winegrower and artisan winemaker Gina Gallo of E. & J. Gallo Winery will deliver the keynote luncheon speech on opening day of the 2018 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium on Tuesday, January 23, in Sacramento at the Sheraton Grand.

“As a member of one of America’s historic winemaking families, Gina embodies a sense of tradition, family legacy, craft and business acumen that transcends generations and inspires future growth amongst colleagues,” says John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), a co-organizer of the event along with the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV).

Gina Gallo oversees the Gallo Signature Series and Ernest & Julio Gallo Estate wines. In her role, she is intimately engaged with the Gallo family’s premier estate vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Monterey counties. As the Senior Director of Winemaking, she views winemaking as both a creative expression of the land and as a demonstration of the unique qualities of a specific vintage.

Her values stem from her family’s entrepreneurial history, using her experience and creative vision to craft luxury wines from her favorite blocks from the family’s estate vineyards. Gallo was a 2016 inductee to the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. Fortune magazine named her one of the “Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink,” and she was named #17 on Decanter magazine’s “Power List” of the most important men and women in wine. She is a board member of the American Farmland Trust, which works to preserve agricultural land, and Taste of the NFL, which raises funds and awareness for food banks and anti-hunger initiatives.

The 2018 Unified Symposium will again take place at the Sacramento Convention Center, located in downtown Sacramento, January 23-25. Built with the joint input of growers, vintners and allied industry members, the Unified Symposium serves as a clearinghouse of information important to wine and grape industry professionals. The Unified Symposium also hosts the industry’s largest trade show of its kind, with over 650 vendors displaying their products and services.

For additional information, visit www.unifiedsymposium.org and be sure to visit Skolnik Industries at booth number 1205 to see our complete line of stainless steel wine barrels.

—Dean Ricker


CANNED WINE GROWS IN POPULARITY
05 October, 2016

Crain’s Chicago Business recently reported that over the past few years canned wine has skyrocketed in popularity. "Cans are the fastest-growing packaging category for wine in the U.S.," says Bill Terlato, CEO of Terlato Wines in Lake Bluff. Canned wine sales have grown from just under $2 million nationally in 2012 to more than $14.5 million in 2016, according to a recent A.C. Nielsen report. "Whole Foods predicted (canned wine) would be one of the biggest retail trends of 2016," says Stephen Sullivan, owner and founder of Vinejoy Chicago, a wine distributor carrying both Fiction and Alloy Wine Works canned wines made by Field Recordings in Paso Robles, Calif. "So far they’ve been dead-on. I’ve sold more cans in June 2016 than in all of 2015." While canned wine has been around since the 1930s, early efforts resulted in a cloudy product that often corroded the tin cans. Those production problems persisted until about 1940, but it wasn’t until today’s new generation of canned wine that things got good. With recent packaging innovations, canned wine is slowly overcoming its image problem. Sofia Minis, a sparkling wine by Francis Ford Coppola introduced in 2004, led the way of this new generation of canned wine. "The cans have a coating on the inside that does not affect the wine’s taste or chemistry," says Marlow Bruce, director of public relations and communications at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. "You can equate the can to wine being stored in a stainless steel tank." The 187-milliliter cans of Sofia come with a straw attached, like juice boxes. Wines in cans aren’t exactly grand cru Burgundy. These are value brands meant for casual, fun consumption. But are canned wines acceptable to a discerning drinker, and do they taste the same from a can as from a bottle? Wine producers say it should taste the same whether coming from a bottle or from a specially lined can.

Though larger than cans, click here to view the Skolnik line of stainless steel wine barrels.


When is it Most Cost-Effective for Winemakers to use an Oak Barrel Alternative?
12 August, 2016

With the amount of winemakers using oak barrel alternatives such as stainless steel wine barrels, concrete tanks and plastic alternatives consistently on the rise, it is safe to say that the oak wine barrel, once the industry standard, is no more. There are many motivations for winemakers to choose an oak alternative like Skolnik’s stainless steel wine barrels: Oak diseases have made the resource rarer and more expensive, oak barrels are less sustainable, difficult to clean or reuse, oak imparts a taste on wine that is not always desired, and so on and so forth. But, since winemaking is as much of a business as it is an art-form, let’s focus on the financial.

The long and short of it is: Oak barrels are less cost effective than stainless steel.The cost of an oak barrel varies depending on the availability of, well, oak. Oak barrels have a limited lifespan and need to be replaced more often which means you are purchasing them more often. And unless you are only producing top shelf, expensive wines and have a constant customer base that consistently purchases all of your pricey bottles at full price — using exclusively oak barrels is just not a practical business model.

So when are stainless steel wine barrels or other oak alternatives the smart, most cost effective choice for your production line? Corey Beck of the Francis Coppola Winery and Sonoma County Vintners says the sweet spot is for wines that retail for under $20.

At this bottle price point, an oak barrel is an unnecessary expense and you see cost savings from topping losses. In a 225-liter oak barrel, winemakers lose an average of 500ml of product to evaporation during the summer months. If you age your wines in stainless steel wine barrels, you avoid this loss. You also avoid the extra costs of water usage (from barrel cleaning), propane (from the forklifts required to move oak barrels) and the energy it takes to cool an oak barrel.

In the end, you have created more of a competitively priced wine product while using less time, money and costly resources. Not to mention that oak alternatives such as chips and staves are growing in quality and availability.

So, if you have been toying with the idea of switching to  a stainless steel barrelfermentation process, now you know which of your wines to start with to get the best bang for your buck!


Stainless Steel: Does it Age Like Oak?
01 July, 2016

Oak barrels were not the winemaking standard for centuries just because they look pretty. Early winemakers found that oak barrels were particularly well suited for flavoring and rounding/concentrating. As modern winemakers contemplate and embrace stainless steel wine barrels, they wonder how it measures up in these two areas.

Oak alternatives do the flavoring job nicely. When it comes to flavor, oak barrels don’t always do the job right. Recycled oak barrels have been neutralized in the flavor department, having given all of their oaky goodness to past batches. Oak alternatives are used in recycled barrels and stainless steel wine barrels and tanks alike. Actually, the oak alternatives, chips and staves, have gained the favor of the wine community because they give winemakers more control over the flavoring of their product. A new barrel will only give a batch of wine so much flavor, but with alternatives, winemakers can add oak in bits and pieces and finely tune their final product. So, when it comes to the flavor function, stainless steel wine barrels can confidently match or outperform the classic oak barrel.

What about rounding/concentrating? This is a little harder to measure and replicate. The rounding or concentrating of a batch of wine is achieved through a delicate balance of oxidization and evaporation. Oak barrels are not even consistent in this area – when they perform well, they create a wonderfully aromatic wine. However, when they are bad and leaky or infected or something, they are disastrously bad and the final product is undrinkable.

Stainless steel wine barrels limit the evaporation of wine and the products exposure to oxygen, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on the style of the wine. Stainless steel wine barrels have become incredibly popular in white winemaking for this very reason – less oxygen makes for a better white wine product. However, it doesn’t make stainless steel any less valuable for red wine. Many winemakers appreciate the added control over the oxidization process and use stainless steel wine barrels to create a clean, fruity red wine.

In short, stainless steel wine barrels measure up as a suitable and satisfying alternative to the increasingly more expensive, limiting and cumbersome oak standard.


The A-ha Moment: Stainless Steel in Wine Production
10 June, 2016

It is a common misconception that stainless steel wine barrels are new on the winemaking scene. Yes, they look sexy and futuristic, but stainless steel tanks have been advocated for by winemakers since the early 60’s and stainless steelbarrels were not a far jump for winemakers. Understandably, the tradition of oak cooping had quite the head start on stainless steel, but stainless steels value in winemaking wasn’t born yesterday.

In the mid-20th century, stainless steel had already made its mark in the dairy industry. French oenologist and “forefather of modern oenology”, Emile Peynaud took note and hypothesized the material’s potential value in winemaking to whoever would listen. Well, Bordeaux producer Chateau Haut Brion listened and became one of the first to install stainless steel tanks in his wineries. The benefits of fermenting in stainless steel soon became obvious and wineries around the world started following Brion’s lead.

The initial benefit in this age of winemaking was the efficiency of stainless steel containers when it comes to controlling fermentation temperature. Heat is a byproduct of the fermentation process but heat also can disrupt the fermentation process if it is not controlled. The outer cooling chambers of stainless steel containers allowed winemakers to maintain the desired temperature for their particular fermentation process – slightly warmer for bold reds, cooler for delicate whites.

Winemakers also discovered they could more easily prevent oxidization and attach other winemaking tools to steer and sculpt the batches into the desired product, add ingredients without exposing the contents to too much air and experiment with different varietals and fermentation processes. Additionally, wine is constantly being racked from tank to tank, stainless steel containers simplify this process without risking alteration to the flavors of the wine.

Whether being used for fermentation or storage, stainless steel is completely neutral in the winemaking process. Unlike oak barrels. Stainless steel containers, such as Skolnik’s stainless steel wine barrels, are a blank slate for winemakers and have been for decades.


Find Your Flavor: Woody Wines Without the Oak
10 March, 2016

There’s a bounty of different flavors out there, but winemakers have long been stuck on oak. With the ongoing shortage of oak and therefore oak barrels, many more experimental winemakers have emerged at the front of the production and popularity pack.

But what if you really, really want to stick to wood? Well, winemakers have been aging and flavoring their wines with woods other than oak throughout history. Chestnut, pine, redwood and acacia have seen their fair share of wine either as barrels and large fermentation vats or as chips, mulch, staves and other flavor additives. In fact, if you are working with a wine in a stainless steel wine barrel, such as the ones manufactured here at Skolnik, you could have more luck with these other woods than winemakers have in the past.

Before stainless steel wine barrels, winemakers would try to use these other woods as full-on winemaking vessels. However, none of them possess the necessary properties to truly substitute for oak when it came to containment. Oak is watertight, flexible and slightly porous, making it a perfect material for coopers to work with. Chestnut is too porous, allowing wine to evaporate too easily. Redwood is too rigid to bend into smaller barrel shapes and imparts a strong flavor better used in moderation. Too much acacia can yellow your wine and many other hardwoods have a smell that is a bit too off-putting to want to fill an entire warehouse with.

But in small, controlled quantities, all of these woods can impart a unique, woody flavor profile to a batch of wine. We look forward to seeing if winemakers begin to play with non-oak woods more now that stainless steel wine barrels have come into popularity.


Make Waves with Oak Staves
23 February, 2016

There are a lot of ways to add flavor to your wine other than the traditional oak barreling process, and there are a lot of flavors to explore other than oak. But, if you’re stuck on oak and don’t have a barrel at your disposal (and who does these days!), you’re in luck. Oak alternatives have been on the scene for quite some time and among the most popular oak alternatives are staves.

Staves are fundamental to the structure and quality of every oak barrel, but even as a barrel is used over and over and seemingly depleted it’s oaking use, the staves can give it a second life. You see, when staves are bound and cooped together as a barrel, only one side of the stave is exposed to the barrel’s contents. That means only one side of the stave is imparting it’s delicious oaky flavor onto the barrel’s contents. That means that once that barrel is considered done and oakless, the other 3 surfaces of the staves still have so much oak flavor to give!

Many winemakers now recycle their barrels by reusing the staves.

To oak your wine with chips or staves, simply place your oak into fabric sacks and submerge them in your aging wine. In the past, wine in stainless steel barrels was said to not age as well as wines painstakingly matured in barrels. However, improvements in micro-oxygenation combined with oak alternatives such as staves and chips have allowed winemakers to better mimic the gentle aeration and aging of wine in oak barrels, and at an accelerated pace.

Oaking your wine with staves or oak chips actually allows you to age your batches more quickly all while adding the desired woody aroma and flavors you desire. With staves and chips, you can achieve an intense oak flavor in a matter of weeks versus the year+ needed with a traditional oak barrel. And by fermenting and oaking your wine in a stainless steel wine barrel, you have complete control of what flavors do and do not enter your wine.


Style & Steel: Emerging Stainless Steel Wine Accessories
19 January, 2016

At Skolnik, we know stainless steel is a true friend to wine and winemakers worldwide, but even with that knowledge, the emergence of stainless steel wine accessories has us amused.

From a production and storage perspective, stainless steel has many advantages in the wine business, but what of the consumption and style perspective? Well, wine enthusiasts who craved a little stainless steel of their own need wait no more: GSI Outdoors is now offering stainless steel wine glasses.

How could one possibly benefit from stainless steel stemware? A few advantages come to mind. First, stainless steel is a more viable material to take wine on-the-go, or crack a bottle open while on a nice hike or picnic where glass is a risk and plastic cheapens the moment. Second, if you’re busting a bottle and a few glasses out of your backpack on a hike, that cool stainless steel is going to make that luke-warm bottle of Sauvignon Blanc more palatable and refreshing. Third, it’s durable. Fourth, some people just really, really love stainless steel?

Like us! We love stainless steel, and we love that the wine-world is embracing stainless steel!  But, with GSI offering two styles of stainless steel wine glasses (stemmed and stemless) as part of their “Gourmet Backpacker” line, we can’t help but crack a smile.


Another Wine Kegged, Another Bottle Saved
18 December, 2015

There are numerous advantages to fermenting wine in stainless steel barrels or tanks – cost, carbon, control, taste, etc – but what of presenting and serving wine in stainless steel? Well, the same benefits apply.

Executive chefs, vintners and restauranteurs are beginning to embrace stainless steel in their tasting rooms, bars and restaurants because it not only saves them storage space and trips to the cellar, but it also saves them trips to the dumpster and provides a viable way of serving wine by the glass without risking the flavor and aroma of the wine remaining in the bottle.

John Coleman, co-owner of Savor and former executive chef and director of food at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas, has heeded the siren song of stainless steel for the last year or so. Savor sells 400-500 glasses of wine a day, and each 6-ounch pour comes from a tapped wine keg. Coleman and his business partner, John Muse, had a vision of a more social gastropub and with that in mind, opted for a wine-by-the-glass approach. But unlike most wine-by-the-glass options, Coleman’s wine is poured from hermetically sealed, high-grade, rust-resistant stainless steel.

The kegs are housed in temperature controlled rooms and the wine never hits the air until it is in a glass, ready to be consumed. The stainless steel keeps oxygen out and the winemaker’s intended flavor and aroma in. Compared to that room-temperature, re-corked bottle sitting on the shelf at your local watering hole, Savor’s pours are perfect.

Other restaurants don’t re-cork wine bottles because they are evil and want your wine to taste bad, they do it in an effort to save costs and reduce their carbon footprint. They don’t want to throw out any product and, like Coleman, they don’t want to haul a bazillion bottles out to the dumpster every night.

Not every party at a restaurant wants to order an entire bottle of wine, stainless steel kegs give restaurants and taprooms a space, cost and carbon efficient way to serve wine by the glass, without compromising the quality of the wine or the customers’ experience.


Chardonnay Coming Back Strong in Stainless Steel
06 November, 2015

Chardonnay has long been one of the best-selling and most-produced wines in the country. It is, perhaps, the first wine we try when we come of age and, more than likely, the first wine we find palatable as a young 21-year-old with a lingering sweet tooth. It is likely that same sweet flavor or aroma that makes chardonnay fall out of flavor as we grow more “sophisticated” in our vino tastes. Now, a pure chardonnay shouldn’t be sickeningly sweet or oaky but after the eclectic tastes of the 80’s and 90’s, winemakers have struggled to shift to the current cleaner preferences. And thus the mantra “Anything But Chardonnay” or “ABC,” came into existence.

The dip in chardonnay popularity and sales has had American winemakers nervous. They are accustomed to mass producing chards in order to meet the constant demand, but now they must adapt and give their oenophiles what they want: a pure, fresh fruit wine without additives. Enter stainless steel tanks and barrels.

There are many reasons wineries have moved away from oak barrels and begun to favor stainless steel wine containers such as those made by Skolnik. Specifically for chardonnay, a stainless steel tank offers winemakers a degree of purity that oak simply cannot touch. Some winemakers continue to use older “neutral” oak barrels, but for those determined to produce the cleanest, freshest chards, no oak is neutral enough.

And the public is happy for it. The truth is, chardonnay never needed all of those additives – it had the power to be different on its own all along. The Europeans have been creating vastly different, barrel-free chardonnay for ages. Even if the winemakers followed the exact same recipe and procedures, their chardonnays will offer a unique flavor or aroma based on the different regions, climates and soil make-ups of their vineyards.

So next time you are asked what wine you want, instead of answering, “Anything But Chardonnay” try asking for “Anything But Oaked Chardonnay” and give your sophisticated taste buds something fresh and delicious to sip on.


Topping Off with Stainless Steel Wine Barrels
25 September, 2015

Even the wine makers who have not seen the light that is the stainless steel wine barrel make use of our “alternative” vessels for topping off.

Topping off a wine barrel refers to adding wine to a barrel to make up for the wine that has evaporated. Oak barrels aren’t completely airtight, so evaporation is inevitable. It’s been reported that up to 5% of a wine’s production can disappear in the angel’s share, leaving you with one tipsy angel and significantly less wine to sell.

Additionally, when wine evaporates, it creates extra air space in the barrel, also known as ullage. Too much ullage can increase the risk of bacteria and the speed of oxidization. Most wine experts aren’t particularly keen on overly oxidized wines as they tend to be less vibrant and aromatic. In fact, left unchecked, oxidization will eventually turn a wine into vinegar. Thus, winemakers will ‘top off’ their barrels to avoid any unwanted or excessive oxidization.

That’s where stainless steel wine barrels come in. Winemakers typically set aside some of the same wine or a similar wine that they can blend into an oak barrel batch when the angel’s get a little too thirsty. Winemakers might top off their barrels every couple of days or every couple of weeks. Either way, they need a hefty supply of product available to do so. And where do they keep that wine? More often than not wine for topping off is coming from an air-tight, angel-proof stainless steel wine barrel, like the ones we manufacture here at Skolnik.


Oak Barrels vs Alternatives
17 July, 2015

On June 23rd, the French American Chamber of Commerce hosted a seminar at the Napa Valley Country Club entitled Barrels vs. Alternatives, about the advantages of the time-tested, traditional barrel compared to the new uses of oak barrel alternatives such as stainless steel.

A panel discussion held by oak suppliers was followed by a winemaker panel. The debate wound through various topics but always seemed to come back to the question: Can alternatives replace barrels? At the top end of the wine market there is need for wine to be aged in French oak barrels. At this end, the opinion is that it has to be a high-quality French oak barrel. At the other end, where wines are made quickly to be priced low and consumed young, barrel alternatives are an ideal way to add oak flavors.

What's not clear is how oak will be used in producing wines for the middle of the market and it's going to be an interesting evolution. The right alternatives could make a wine of very high quality when paired with a fine wine and given time to age. If you don't give it the same potential, you obviously will have different results. A barrel is an excellent vessel for aging and improving wine, it but can require significant resources.

At a certain point wineries need to examine alternatives to reduce their barrel loads. Barrel alternatives also allow a winery to be flexible, or reactive, to trends in the retail and bulk market either by fine-tuning a wine to fit a brand or getting a wine ready for bottling sooner. One winemaker stated the he first started using barrel alternatives to deal with grapes that exhibited strong vegetal flavors such as spinach and broccoli. He said the various powders and chips were like "magic bullets" for dealing with the issue. Today, the barrel alternatives market has grown so diverse, and there's so many ways to tinker with a wine during fermentation. Stainless steel wine barrels of course round out the use of alternative to oak, offering not only a blank slate for "un-oaked" wines, but also acting as a vessel for use with oak alternatives. Check out the barrel alternatives from Skolnik.


Better Wine Through Chemistry
09 June, 2015

Of all the problems associated with imparting the aromatics of oak to wine, the cost (in terms of raw materials and time) is the one that frustrates winemakers and their accountants the most. It's not so much a problem for a $200 bottle of wine. But for a mass-market wine in the competitive $10-a-bottle category, oak barrels at $1,000 a pop along with cellaring for six to 24 months simply isn't an option. A partial solution some wineries have resorted to is the use of oak chip “tea bags,” which addresses the financial cost of barrels but doesn't fully solve the issue of time: Even oak chips need time to percolate through the vat.

There may be a solution on the horizon in the form of wood-infused lees. In a study published in Food Chemistry in March, a group of researchers from the Enology Lab at the Polytechnic University of Madrid have essentially taken lees, the sedimentary dead yeast cells leftover after fermentation, and steeped them in a sort of “tea” made from various wood chips: oak, acacia, chestnut and cherry for the purposes of this test. The “aromatized yeast biomass” was then washed, dehydrated, added to test batches of Tempranillo wine and allowed to do its thing for a month.

The results were promising: Through sensory analysis (man) and chromatography (machine) the wines were proven to have received levels of phenolic and volatile compounds associated with the more expensive and lengthier process of barrel aging. Sensorial analysis identified marked increases in wood (obviously), ripe and fresh fruit notes, smoke, mouthfeel, balance and even acidity. Conversely, bitterness was reduced in the wood-infused samples. In short, all the things one typically tries to impart to wine by way of barrel aging. Check out the entire selection of Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels here


The California Drought and the Impact on Wine Production
06 May, 2015

We all know the saying “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” but in California many vineyards fear that the drought and brutal water shortage will inevitably translate to a wine shortage – and just when the wine industry was expecting a boom.

The supply of both the fruit and water for wine production is limited by nature and, due to nature’s limits of water on the west coast, water is being limited by the government as well. State Water Project allocations in California currently hover around 20% of normal – and smaller wineries and/or more inexpensive wines are suffering the worst. The increasing cost of water becomes more difficult to justify if the product is only going to be sold for $7 a bottle. However, quality vintage wines stand to suffer just as much as winemakers may be forced to cut corners in order to withstand the increased cost of production and keep their prices attractive to consumers.

It’s a tumultuous time. Thus far, grapevines have prevailed despite the drought, but as conditions worsen, the fate of California’s vineyards is looking grim. Grapevines are natural survivors, but the industry is going to need more than instinct; it’s going to need innovation.

On average, it takes about 6 gallons of water in the cellar to make a gallon of wine. Everything in a wine cellar needs to be as clean as possible and water is the often the path to this cleanliness. Most water use in winemaking can be attributed to the cleaning of barrels and tanks. Oak wine barrels are tedious beasts to clean; if you want to reuse a barrel for a new batch of wine, you must thoroughly wash the barrel’s every nook and cranny.

Stainless steel wine barrels provide a water and cost conscious alternative to traditional oak barrels. And, at time where water is money, winemakers could do more than survive by switching a portion of their production to stainless steel barrels.

Skolnik offers stainless steel wine barrels in a variety of sizes, giving winemakers the freedom to keep up production and experiment despite the ongoing drought conditions.

Contact one of our representatives to discuss how a stainless steel wine barrel could help support your operations and artistry.


Looking Forward: The Growth of the American Wine Industry
31 March, 2015

In the last fifteen years, the amount of wineries in the United States has more than quadrupled and not just in the traditional wine territories of California, Oregon and Washington. In fact, a more accurate location for today’s wine country would be on the opposite coast in Virginia, North Carolina and New York – not to exclude the booming wine production on America’s ‘middle coast’ in Michigan.

While California still creates the vast majority of wine made in the United States, wine of some sort is now produced in all 50 states. Yep, all 50…even Alaska. Big Wine and California may still dominate the market, but the now ubiquitous small, artisanal wineries are shaping the landscape of American Wine and driving the growth of the industry with advances in both quantity and quality.

Small, family-owned wineries are focusing more intensely on viticulture, alternative and advanced farming techniques and technology, such as oak alternatives and Skolnik’s stainless steel wine barrels. Local wine is more present and palatable than ever before. Tourists across the country can find a winery local to their vacation destination with ease should they want to experience the flavors of their journey – even if their journey has brought them to a flyover state.

Even while recovering from the wine shortages of 2010 and 2011, the industry is positioned for strong, continuing growth this year. Wine enthusiasts have emerged from the recession, ready to treat themselves to finer vintages and more expensive, craft wines and ‘on premise’ sales in restaurants, airlines, cruise ships and other hospitality venues are exploding. And, of course, there is the ever present love of Charles Shaw or “Two Buck Chuck” among the younger crowd.

It’s 2015 and wine is literally everywhere. Never before have so many wine writers had to dedicate pages upon pages to the wineries of Virginia.


Fermentation in Stainless Steel vs. Concrete Barrels
14 March, 2015

While the quintessential image of winemaking features broad oak barrels and maybe a beautiful woman stomping on grapes barefoot and in an oaken vessel, times and winemaking has changed. Many winemakers have come to see the benefits of alternative fermentation vessels – benefits that reach beyond cost savings and efficiency and into the artistry of winemaking and the field of flavor potential.

In the rise of alternative fermentation vessels, two options reign supreme: stainless steel barrels and cement eggs.

In actuality, the cement egg fermenter isn’t a new phenomenon. The Romans were known for fermenting their wine in concrete containers and, like all history, the cement fermenter has come back time and again. In the recent climate of barrel shortages and booming wineries, the cement egg is favored for being a more porous alternative to stainless steel barrels. The porous nature of concrete allows for micro-oxidization, much like traditional oak barrels. Micro-oxidation can help a wine develop a more textured shape and flavor. However, unlike oak, cement can maintain a cool temperature and draws out a richer fruit flavor than oak barrels.

Then there are stainless steel wine barrels, such as Skolnik’s, which have risen above cement tanks since ancient Rome and aren’t going anywhere soon. Neither cement nor oak barrels can compete with stainless steel when it comes to cleanliness – both in the physical practice of cleaning and, most importantly, in flavor. Stainless steel results in a neutral fermentation. Little flavor is added to the fruit unless it is specifically put there by the winemaker. When you ferment in stainless steel you preserve the purity of the fruit flavors already present in the grapes themselves. This purity is why winemakers largely favor stainless steel for white wines like a crisp Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

Choosing the right fermentation barrel is an important task for winemakers. Their methods often define the flavors and reputation of their products, so it is no surprise that winemakers have their preferences. As Ted Lemon of Littorai Wines in California put it “Given the choice between licking cement and licking stainless steel, I’d rather lick stainless. Since the wine ends up on my tongue, that pretty well says it all.”

There are a million factors at play, including climate and the intended wines, but in the end it’s all about careful choice, artistry and the willingness to experiment.


Find Your Flavor with Stainless Steel Barrels for Wine
31 January, 2015

An oak tree only makes enough wood for about two barrels, which will only hold about 50 cases of wine. Furthermore, oak barrels cease to add any flavor to a wine after their first 2-3 uses. Add in the fact that oak barrels are growing increasingly rarer and expensive and using alternatives to oak your batch of wine just makes sense.

stainless steel barrel for wine, paired with your preferred oaking alternative is the recipe for a fantastically oaked wine without negatively effecting the environment or your bottom line.

There are a number of tools and techniques used by winemakers to oak wine in a stainless steel barrel. Oak staves, oak chips and oak cubes are all-around efficient. These small chunks of oak can be bought new or made from old ‘neutral’ oak barrels. A key benefit to using smaller bits of oak is that you can submerge and extract flavor from all sides of the oak pieces, whereas in an oak barrel you’re only utilizing the aroma compounds of the interior of the barrel. Furthermore, because the oak in powder and chips don’t require the structural integrity of those used in forming a barrel, the pieces can be more heavily toasted for more distinct flavors.

Sometimes you don’t want oak, stainless steel barrels empower daring winemakers to experiment with a number of natural flavors and spices, all of which can be easily steeped into a batch of wine like a teabag in hot water. Popular mixes include cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, lemon, vanilla, fennel, anise, juniper, elderflowers and black currents.

Stainless steel wine barrels excel at maintaining the integrity of the fruit itself. Highlight the superiority of your grapes and any fruit or spice additives in your wine recipe by aging it in a stainless steel barrel. After all, you spent a lot of time growing and/or choosing those raw materials, why not show them off.

There are many ways to flavor your wine, and while oak barrels might be the old standby, stainless steel wine barrels open up the door to fantastic new flavor opportunities.


Sudden Oak Death and the Wine Barrel Shortage
17 January, 2015

It’s a widely known fact these days that oak barrels are rare and being sold at a premium. It’s an issue affecting winemakers, brewers and distillers alike. Earlier we cited Sudden Oak Death as a partial cause for the nation’s continued shortage of oak barrels. But what exactly is Sudden Oak Death and how long has it been plaguing our forests?

Sudden Oak Death is a tree disease caused by the plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum. The pathogen has been killing millions of tanoak trees as well as several oak tree species since the mid-1990s, but the pathogen’s origin is still unknown. Oak species affected include coast live oak, California black oak, Shreve oak and canyon live oak.

In 2004 a few large West Coast nurseries inadvertently shipped over a million infected plants throughout the United States and suddenly P. ramorum was detected in 176 nurseries in 21 states. This is when the U.S. nursery industry truly felt the impact of the disease.

P. ramorum thrives in cool, wet climates. In California, nurseries within the fog belt provide a satisfactory habitat for the pathogen to grow and spread.

The name Sudden Oak Death might seem extreme, but it is mostly accurate. Trees are infected through the trunk or sometimes the leaves for tanoaks. Symptoms include large ‘bleeding’ cankers in the trees trunks and wilting new shoots or foliage discoloration. Some trees die immediately, but appear to be alive for a while longer as it takes some time for their leaves and branches to brown. In some cases, leaf death doesn’t occur for a year after the initial infection. Not all infected plants die, to some non-oak species the infection is non-lethal and every tree responds differently. However, ambrosia and bark beetles are naturally drawn to infected trees and their infestation can be the kiss of death for a tree that may otherwise survive the disease.

Sudden Tree Death has been found abroad in Germany, Wales, Ireland and England and is still a slight mystery to researchers. Disease progression is still unknown on a variety of species, but one thing is for certain: the ecological threat is severe. Dying trees affect the species composition and, therefore, the ecosystem of forests. A shift in the ecosystem can lead to loss of food sources for some wildlife, a change in forest fire frequency or intensity and a decreased water supply and quality due to an increase in exposed soil surfaces.

While the ecological impact is still being monitored, the economic impact is clear, if only for coopers and barrel-users. With fewer oak trees, there are fewer new oak barrels being produced each year. The disease is affecting a number of oak-dependent industries, but winemakers and distillers are doing what they can to proceed with business. Stainless steel barrels have emerged as a powerful and reliable substitute and winemakers are growing more innovative in their oak flavoring techniques.

Our forests need a cure and our ecosystem needs these suffering species to survive, but winemakers, it seems, adapt and prevail.


Stainless Steel Wine Barrels To The Rescue
06 January, 2015

Many winemakers, new and old, prefer oak barrels for aging and storage. There is an air of “this is how it’s always been done” that makes it hard to accept any other alternative. However, with an oak barrel shortage now persisting for three years, many winemakers have embraced the modernity of stainless steel wine barrels rather than pay through the nose for used oak.

So, where have all the barrels gone?

Economically, one could cite the combined collapse of one the housing industry and the explosion of another: adult beverages. After the housing bubble burst in 2007-2008, the demand for lumber decreased dramatically and many loggers were forced to leave the field. Several years later, the global consumption and production of wine, beer and barrel-aged spirits such as bourbon has boomed, leaving loggers struggling to keep up.

Environmentally, the story is a little more complicated and devastating. A state-side epidemic of Sudden Oak Death, an aptly named forest disease, has killed millions of oaks and wiped out several oak tree species since the mid-1990s. Couple in bad, wet winters and you have a recipe for scarcity.

In the wake of the shortage, the price of both new and used oak barrels has either doubled or worse, depending on the size. Small to midsized wineries and distilleries struggle to accurately predict and fulfill their need for barrels, let alone afford them. Even some larger operations with private cooperages have felt the impact of the shortage.

While smaller and more experimental winemakers have taken advantage of the flexibility, durability and eco-friendly benefits of stainless steel wine barrels for years, the dearth of oak barrels has pushed them into the spotlight.


Stainless Steel Wine Barrels: A Simple Step Towards Water Conservation
05 December, 2014

Water scarcity is a real global problem. In the United States, seemingly boundless bodies of water such as the powerful Colorado River and the massive Lake Mead are drying up. Nearly the entire state of California is now classified as being under “extreme” and “exceptional” drought conditions.

As local California governments issue hefty fines to residents who are caught watering their lawn, everybody is on edge and pushing to conserve water. Wine country is no exception.

Utilizing stainless steel wine drums is one step towards conserving water at your vineyard or winery.

New oak barrels require a swelling period with water before use. Whether you choose to do a cold or hot water soak, you are spending gallons of water just to prepare your barrel. Additionally, best practices caution against allowing the same water to stand in the barrel for more than three days for cleanliness sake and suggest a complete fill of the barrel once the soak is complete to make certain there are no slow leaks.

Used barrels still need to be rehydrated before use and cleaned between continuing uses. Wood is a naturally porous building material, so cleaning takes several, thorough rinses to ensure all wine deposits from the last batch have been washed away.

Our crevice-free, seamless stainless steel wine barrels are easy to clean and sterilize. The smooth interior makes it nearly impossible for bacteria and wine deposits to accumulate, demanding a less rigorous cleaning process. Additionally, these solid barrels come watertight and ready to go, no need to waste any time or water on swelling.

With important water reservoirs and basins drying up faster than we’d like to admit, we all must do our part to conserve water. Many regions in California offer water management resources and irrigation evaluations, in the meantime the use of stainless steel wine barrels is a strong first step towards more efficient water management.


Stainless Steel Wine Barrels in the Tasting Room
21 November, 2014

Tasting rooms and facility tours have become increasingly popular weekend or vacation activities for craft beverage enthusiasts. A pit stop at a local winery or distillery not only provides an afternoon of entertainment and libation, but a neat snapshot of the town culture and people, and an ample selection of unique gifts to bring back home.

Providing an unparalleled brand experience and saving wineries the expenses of bottling and shipping, tasting rooms have grown into a cornerstone of the winery business, accounting for nearly 30% of most wineries incomes.

In the tasting room, the winery has complete control over their customers’ experience. Passionate winemakers can interact directly with their consumers and fans, building a more personal connection between brand and buyer. If a customer doesn’t care for one wine, the staff can get their feedback and suggest a product that may better suit their tastes. With stainless steel wine barrels, wineries can tap a number of different styles, flavors and ages of wine, and even try out experimental batches without jumping through the hoops and costs of distribution and marketing. Meanwhile, visitors enjoy a diverse palate of wines, straight from the vineyard.

Tasting room visitors rarely come by just to try and not buy, and, their tasting room experience will likely influence their wine selection next time they see your product at a retailer. In today’s ever-connected society, there are countless ways to reach your customers. However, stainless steel barrel-fresh wine and a person-to-person interaction with your brand is pretty hard to beat.


Why a Seamless Stainless Steel Crevice Free Drum was Developed by Skolnik
14 September, 2014

This is the story of why, and how, Skolnik developed their Stainless Seamless Crevice Free Drum. In a standard steel drum, where the body and head meet, there is a small crevice; it is created when the pieces are welded and seamed together.  This is oftentimes not a concern and the drum is an effective way to safely transport highly valued contents.  Sometimes, however, bacteria can grow in the crevice and this can lead to contamination of certain contents such as substances used in the pharmaceutical industry or chemical industry that use nitric acid or other chemicals.  The seamless drum does not have this crevice; it is smooth where the body and head meet which means it does not carry the same risk of bacterial contamination as a conventional steel drum. Skolnik Industries has always produced safe and reliable drums for storage and transport, but something more hygienic was needed and this led to the production of the seamless, crevice free drum and nitric acid steel drum.

In the early 2000’s, there was growing interest in seamless drums. Customer demand for the product increased, and Skolnik Industries was looking to meet the needs of our customers.  Our in-house engineering department was able to quickly begin developing the machinery that would allow for seamless drum production.  The process needed to be precise and thorough. With a team of full time engineers on hand, we committed 6 years of research and development to make sure the Skolnik seamless drum would be a safe and effective container for our customers.

The need for new equipment prompted our team to design machines that would properly and effectively weld the seamless drum.  It was important that the body, cap, and foot ring of the drum would all fit perfectly, and the welding engineer spent close to a year attempting to simulate the correct process. Once all the designs were finished, the necessary machines were built and the first seamless drum was produced.  It had been a long process, but it was ready for the quality tests.  It is imperative that seamless drums keep from cracking after a drop test.  A proper weld will help a seamless drum pass. this drop test . The welding programs were adjusted multiple times until a satisfactory setting was found.  The in-house engineering team was able to successfully bring seamless drums to the Skolnik Industries product line.

Production of a seamless, crevice free drum was slow-going, and we soon started looking for opportunities to speed up the process.  Further improvements to machinery were made, and the purchase of a vertical hooping machine simplified adding row bars to a drum.  With the new machinery and processes in place, production time was cut in half.  This meant large orders could be filled in a timely fashion that benefited customers on a strict time schedule while still ensuring a quality product.  By 2009 Skolnik Industries seamless drums were on the market.

Throughout the process there were roughly 15 dedicated Skolnik employees, from engineers to maintenance, to the quality department, who had a close hand in getting the company ready for seamless drum production.  It took time and creativity, and it has all been worth it.  Seamless drums lower the risk of contamination by residual bacteria and are a good value given the volume of contents that can be transported.  Both Skolnik and our customers have benefited from the seamless, crevice free drum production.


Napa high priority - can provide immediate wine barrel replacements
25 August, 2014

Skolnik Industries is prepared to immediately ship stainless steel wine barrels in 5 gallon up to 124 gallon sizes. We have instructed our customer service department to make any Napa Valley area request a priority in the fulfillment and shipping schedule.


Preventing Re-Fermentation with Stainless Steel Wine Barrels
18 August, 2014

The winemaking process is unique for each type of wine.  Vintners must consider the grapes, desired flavours and aromas when creating each new batch.  Arguably the most important step in winemaking is the fermentation process, which determines a wine’s alcohol and residual sugar content.  There are many ways to begin fermentation, each yielding a different result, and it is imperative the proper methods are used.

During the fermentation process, the added yeast breaks down sugars found in the grape juice to create alcohol.  This is an important step in the winemaking process, and the amount of time a wine is fermented can have a large effect on the final product.  Temperature and the amount of oxygen present also play a role in the effectiveness of the fermentation.  Some wines, like ice wines or Sauternes, have a high sugar content which makes them great for desserts, but also creates the risk of re-fermenting.  If these batches contain too much residual sugar and are not watched closely, the wine may go back into the fermentation process.  If this occurs after bottling it can cause many problems for the winemakers, since reworking the wine is usually impossible and results in a loss of product.

The sugars found in wine grapes are what makes the fermentation possible, but in order to keep some of the sweetness of dessert wines a certain level of residual sugars must be present.  Once the wines have fermented to the proper state they must be stored or bottled in a way that re-fermentation does not occur.  The cleanliness of the stainless steel wine barrel makes it a safe choice in terms of contamination risks, and its air-tight closures help ensure these sweet wines will keep on track and not revert back into fermentation.  Having a secure storage container can help prevent the loss of product for winemakers, and ensure a satisfactory beverage.

Stainless steel wine barrels have multiple uses for the wine industry, but once sterilized, these containers make excellent storage units to help prevent re-fermentation of high sugar content wines.  The wine barrels' ability to control oxygen levels can be a great asset for vintners who struggle with the risk of fermentation. It is important to know all the options for preventing re-fermentation, and that vineyards and wineries make educated decisions about the actions taken in dealing with their product.  Knowing about the option of stainless steel wine barrels can help in the decision making process.


Rules of Thumb for Using Oak Alternatives
01 August, 2014

When it comes to winemaking, oak alternatives (aka barrel alternatives) can be something of an elephant in the room. Everybody uses them, but few want to admit to using them. Most winemakers already know this but, by themselves, oak alternatives are not straight substitutes for aging a wine in barrels. When used in conjunction with micro-oxygenation (MOX), winemakers can produce wines that are pretty hard to distinguish from wines that have undergone a traditional élevage. Both methods are merely tools one can use to make wine. It is the final product—the wine—that really matters. There are a few well known rules of thumb when it comes to using oak alternatives. The first is: Extraction happens more quickly than is usually expected. If what you want is oak flavor, a couple of weeks is usually long enough for chips, two months for blocks. Tank staves are generally used for extended extractions of six to nine months. It might take much longer for the oak tannins to auto-polymerize and to polymerize with the other anthocyanins, etc. In general, the actual extraction of oak aromatics into the wine is astonishingly fast. As a corollary to this rule, if you want more oak, use more oak—not more time. An extended time on or in oak isn't really going to increase the oaky aroma in the wine. This is especially the case as the size of the oak chip or block decreases. The smaller the piece of oak, the higher the ratio between the surface area and the total volume of oak. The added time may round out the perception of the tannins on the palate, but the aging reactions should proceed, whether or not the wine continues to be exposed to the oak alternatives. The second rule of thumb is: Smaller-earlier. Larger-later. What this means is use the smaller-sized oak alternatives earlier in the winemaking process and the larger ones later. The reason for including this mnemonic is mainly operational. Loose oak powder and small chips can be added at fermentation since they can be passed through pretty much any wine processing equipment that can deal with must. The final rule of thumb is: Small for the nose, large for the palate. This is something of an accepted rule of thumb. This is generally true for relatively late additions of oak—that is, for finishing and tuning wines. However, the difference between the oak additions in different formats decreases as the wine gets older. You can see our entire line of Stainless Steel Wine Barrels and find the oak alternative that best fits your winemaking process.


Stainless Steel Wine Barrels: A Wise Choice
15 July, 2014

The first image brought to mind when thinking of a wine barrel is a sturdy oak barrel filled with a complex Cabernet or a buttery Chardonnay, but winemakers have found the benefits of a different type of barrel- stainless steel.  The stainless steel barrel has many functions that can be used throughout the process to complement traditional oak barrels, from fermentation to aging of wine, or storage of excess juice.  Because of the steel’s durability and the ease at which it can be cleaned, stainless steel wine barrels are now a frequent sight at wineries.

The number one use of a stainless steel wine barrel is the storage of excess wine.  Because there is a slight inaccuracy in predicting how much wine can be produced from a grape harvest, stainless barrels provide the perfect storing unit for any excess juice.  The steel is easy to clean and will not impart any undesirable flavors into the wine, unlike traditional oak.  Since the wine is stored in a clean stainless container it can be added to any oak barrel without fear of contamination.  This creates a safe place for the excess juice, and also makes stainless barrels perfect for topping off oak barrels; as wine ages in a traditional barrel evaporation lowers the liquid’s volume.  This evaporation can often allow air to enter the barrel and negatively affect the wine’s flavour.  To prevent oxidation, wineries top off the oak barrels by adding these small amounts which can be lost.  Again, the stainless steel barrels acts as a useful storage unit for this wine which may be needed at a later date.

The blank slate offered from a stainless steel barrel makes it excellent for experimentation.  While experimenting with a new blend or yeast, it can be important that the wine’s structure be free from oak or other outside influences.  Since a clean steel barrel imparts no flavor to the wine, it makes a great unit for fermenting and experimentation.  Experimenting with different techniques is also a common practice with stainless barrels.  The steel’s non-corrosive nature makes it ideal for the acidity of wine, which can often be too harsh for other containers. Steel barrels can be temperature controlled which allows for easy fermentation technique experiments.  A stainless barrel is also perfect for experimenting in small batches with different yeasts and flavors.

It is the nature of wine to take on the characteristic of materials with which it comes into contact with; this can prove detrimental in many circumstances.  A stainless steel wine barrel is a great complement to the traditional oak for storing, experimenting, and even aging wines.  The strong steel creates a safe container and imparts no added flavors.  A stainless steel wine barrel will prove a sound investment at any vineyard or winery.


How to Easily Pump Wine Out of a Wine Barrel
16 June, 2014

One of the most frequent questions that we receive from our wine customers relates to the problem of transferring wine to or from the barrel. While large wineries may have sophisticated electronic pumping and transfer systems, smaller wineries struggle with finding an easy and consistent way of emptying their stainless steel wine barrels. We have recently discovered a manual pump that works beautifully with our entire series of wine drums. GoatThroat pumps work by pressurizing a drum to dispense liquids with one touch, as easily as using a faucet. A few strokes of the piston can pressurize any container from 2-gallon jugs to 55-gallon drums. One-touch flow control dispenses liquids at a controlled rate to prevent waste, conserve inventory, and produce precisely measured amounts every time. Flow can be continuous, or adjusted to dispense liquids at rates up to 4.5 gallons per minute depending on viscosity. The pumps can be quickly attached to any container from 1-gallon jugs to our 55-gallon wine barrels. A few strokes of the plunger pressurizes the container, and liquids can be dispensed with one touch of the tap, as easily as opening and closing a faucet. Precise flow control helps to conserve inventory by eliminating the guesswork from dispensing and measuring precise amounts of expensive chemicals. A patented drip-proof tap prevents leaks, and a unique air-pressure dispensing system allows containers to be completely drained while remaining in a safe, upright position without the need to turn a barrel on its side. Wineries can also save time and money not having to clean up spills or overflows. Unlike expensive electrical pumps, the pumps cost less, require no power, and create no potential sparking hazard. With only three moving parts, the pumps are nearly maintenance-free. Constructed of 100% non-reactive polypropylene, these pumps are exceptionally durable to assure long service and reliability in even the most demanding winery environment. For more information check out the GoatThroat web site at www.goatthroat.com.


Stainless Steel Barrel Aging And New Woods
27 May, 2014

Winemakers have known for generations that oak characteristics mellow the tannins and that aging wine in small casks allow for more wine to be in contact with the oak. Many winemakers instead of investing in expensive American or French oak casks for aging the wine, are aging with wood chips in a stainless steel barrels and tanks. This method gives more wine-to-wood contact and won’t have the cost of casks or space that the casks require in aging cellars.

Oak barrels and “alternative” oak derived products, such as chips, staves, powder and liquid tannin extracts are currently widely used in the making of wines and as a means of flavoring wine. In South Africa, winemakers have infused the wood of Roobios bushes along with a little Cyclopia genistoides known commonly as honeybush plants growing in the Western Cape of South Africa into the vat of fermenting Merlot. The wood is unique in that it has high levels of antioxidants, no caffeine and low tannin levels when compared to other wood sources used in winemaking. It also contains a number of phenolic compounds and many flavonoids. Both wood types impart unique and distinctive flavours to red wine, including a tobacco–like smokiness, hints of vanilla, cherry and black pepper. Tasting notes from this new release have the Audacia Rooibos Merlot with intense aromas with a bouquet of sweet cherries, roses, Turkish delight and fynbos (a southern hemisphere bush). The palate is elegant with a balanced tannin structure. The wine’s flavors are also reminiscent of fynbos and spices, and they exhibit a pleasant, sweet red berry finish.The Audacia Rooibos Merlot is not available in the US yet. You can order the wine direct from the winery for just under $17 a bottle. If you are into trading, this first vintage could be a very lucrative purchase to hold onto for at least five years. Another great wine made using stainless steel! Check out the complete line of Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.


Small Wine Barrels
13 May, 2014

Wine barrels come in a variety of sizes and materials; gigantic metal tanks and tiny oak barrels have all been privy to holding the legendary drink.  Skolnik Industries offers vintners the longevity and purity of stainless steel wine barrels.  We offer a variety of sizes because we understand there are countless ways to create wine and not every final product needs to be stored or fermented in a massive container.  The 5 and 10 gallon wine barrels offer unique opportunities for wineries that they can’t get from the larger 55 gallon size.  Benefits range from the ability to experiment with new flavors to creating small batches of a ‘limited time’ drink.

When a new or different flavor is desired there is a long process of trial and error.  Adding different flavors, using different grapes, or combining other fruits brings a unique effect to the wine.  Since these outcomes are not always predictable, test batches are created and tasted in small quantities.  The smaller wine barrels are perfect for this because it allows the process to move quickly and reduces the waste of a failed experiment.  Wineries can also have multiple experimental barrels stored in the same amount of space a larger tank would fill.  These smaller barrels are also perfect for creating special wines.  Limited time offers or special request wines that call for smaller quantities of wine need a proper sized barrel in which to be created.  Anything too large risks creating waste or unused wine, so the smaller barrels are a perfect fit.

There is plenty of need for small wine barrels, and Skolnik’s stainless steel variety make an excellent choice for meeting many of those needs.  The strong and easy to clean barrels in 5 and 10 gallon sizes are perfect for small batches of special wines or for experimenting.  Because good things often come in small packages these barrels can help create delicious drinks that vintners everywhere can be proud to call their own.  So whether it’s a unique blend that is kept special by its small amount or the twelfth attempt at getting that just-right flavor, a smaller Skolnik stainless steel wine barrel might just be just right for our needs.

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Product Specifications of our 55 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel. Fitting in center of body.


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Product Specifications of our 55 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel. Fitting in center of body, flange on top.


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Product Specifications of our 30 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel


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Product Specifications of our 16 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel. Fitting in center of top.


Adobe Acrobat File

Product Specifications of our 16 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel. Fitting in center of body.


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Product Specifications of our 10 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel


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Product Specifications of our 5 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel


124 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
Our 124 gallon stainless steel wine barrel is the largest wine barrel we manufacture.  At 105 lbs and 41" high, this wine barrel is most frequently used when a stainless steel wine tank is too large, but a traditional oak wine barrel is too small.
30 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
The 30 gallon stainless steel wine barrel is manufactured in either an open head or tight head style.  Both styles have the 2" tri-clover flange located in the middle third of the body.  The 30 gallon wine barrel is manufactured of 304 2B polished stainless steel that is 1.2mm thick.
16 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrels
We carry 3 style options of the 16 gallon stainless steel wine barrel.  All weigh 17lbs and measure 26" high and 14" in diameter.  You have an option of an open head or tight head cover as well as the 2" tri-clover fitting located in the center third of the body or on the cover.
10 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
The 10 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel weighs 14 lbs and is available in an opend head or tight head style.  Each is manufactured of 304 2B polished stainless steel that is 0.9mm thick.  Our inventory ...
5 Gallon Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
The 5 gallon stainless steel wine barrels come in 2 style options:  an open head or tight head cover.  Either style has a 2" tri-clover fitting located in the middle third of the body.  The 5 ...
25 Gallon Crevice Free, Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
Our 25 Gallon Crevice Free, Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel compliments our seamless line including 55 gallon and 75 gallon capacities.  The crevice free design eliminates the need for excessive cleaning to avoid contamination.  Maintenance time ...
75 Gallon Seamless, Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
Our 75 Gallon Seamless, Stainless Steel Wine Barrel is unique in design not just for the crevice free interior, but for the center bilge to mimic the shape of traditional oak wine barrels.  The Bilge ...
55 Gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrel
Our 55 Gallon Seamless Stainless Steel Wine Barrels weigh 59 lbs and fit on standard wine racks.  The crevice free design (created by the seamless interior) enable fast and thorough cleaning.  This design enables control ...