Several studies in and around the vineyard global community have demonstrated the importance of both ambient temperature and relative humidity in French Oak barrel ageing of red wine.
Not unlike many other sectors of the economy which requires refrigeration to store and mature/age their produce, e.g. bulk cold room storage of fresh fruit and vegetables; hanging meat in meat cold rooms; packhouse cold chain storage, the wine industry also tends to ignore/downgrade the importance and need for a consistent high relative humidity level somewhere between 75% and 85%.
Air conditioning whilst important in the ageing process of red wine in barrels has the downside that it tends to dehumidify the chamber/cellar in the cooing process. The latter phenomenon is even more extreme in dry seasons when humidity is already at its lowest in free-air.
Winemakers stand to benefit hugely when they begin to realize the importance and role of automated humidity control in terms of reduced evaporative wine losses in barrels as well as the potential to produce a more superior quality wine as a result of less frequent opening of barrels to top-up.
Not unlike most professionals in the food production chain winemakers require robust, reliable, low tech, low energy consumption, and low-maintenance equipment to not only contain maintenance costs but also to avoid, were possible, reliance on costly external technical expertise.
If the foregoing can be achieved, with the promise of a Capex return on investment measured in months rather than years (if ever for some types of equipment), then the winemaker is in a win-win situation.
View Polar Africa (www.polarafrica.co.za) for further information and/or quotation to have an automated humidity control intervention installed in your wine barrel cellar.