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piattelli-gravity-flow-winery

[Piattelli's new gravity flow winery / Piattelli Vineyards]

 

In Cafayate, Salta, Argentina, we have just completed the finishing touches on our new Piattelli winery. Besides being a beautiful representation of Argentine architecture and a symbol of our company, the most unique part of the building is its gravity flow winery system.


Gravity flow winemaking has been around for a century in other parts of the world, but is uncommon because it’s quite expensive to build. It typically requires being built on a hill (as our property is) so there can be three levels for the main steps in the winemaking process:

 

  • The Top Level: At the very top of the winery, the grapes are brought to the sorting and crushing machines. Wine grapes (red ones especially) are not meant to be "crushed," per se, but are really broken open so the seeds are kept intact and not cracked. The seeds can give unpleasant harsh flavors when cracked so treating the seeds gently is very important.
  • The Middle Level: The wine flows down from the crushing machines into the fermentation room. Keeping the fruit intact is important for fermentation because the fruit/juice interaction is essential for color and fruit flavor. Simply flowing through tubes into the fermentation tanks is much more beneficial than using pumps that could more likely damage the fruit and seeds in this transition.
  • The Bottom Level: After fermentation, the wine flows down to the barrel room. At this stage the grapes have become wine, so the gravity flow helps by reducing heat and air that can be leaked into the pipes by using pumps. Heat and air are two major enemies of great wine, so gravity flow eliminates the risk from this step.

salta-rendering-piattelli-gravity-flow-winery

[A rendering of the Piattelli winery in Salta / Piattelli Vineyards]

 

In addition to the benefits to the wine, there are environmental benefits to the practice. With gravity doing most of the work, there is no electricity needed for the process. 

 

There are only three gravity flow wineries in Argentina and several more around the world, such as WillaKenzie, Portfolio and Palmaz Vineyards, but ours is the first in the winemaking region of Salta. Our region is very arid and resource conservation is key so the structure is key to our sustainable initiatives. Other environmental efforts here include conserving water by using a drip system over flood irrigation and the winery was constructed with local materials including Mortero stones and an ancient process to build stone walls

 

Cafayate is a quiet desert town so we wish our winery to fit in as a supportive piece of the community. We make all of our wines with wisdom, precision and love and using gravity flow is another element in making our wines special.

 

Until next time, I wish good fortune to you and yours. 

- Alejandro 

 

My name is Alejandro Nesman and I'm lead winemaker for our winery in Salta, Argentina. Our principal winemaker, Valeria Antolin, and I will be updating educational content for you all to enjoy on this site. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about our winery and visit our profile.


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