Minimizing VA Risk in Wineries : Cleaning & Sanitation

Minimizing VA Risk in Wineries : Cleaning & Sanitation

Technical Bulletin: Minimizing VA Risk Through Proper Cleaning & Sanitation: The Role of Temperature Indicating Labels


Volatile acidity (VA) is a major concern for winemakers, as it can significantly impact wine quality and marketability. While various factors contribute to VA, one of the most significant is inadequate cleaning and sanitation practices in the winery. This bulletin explores the importance of proper cleaning and sanitation in controlling VA and highlights the role of temperature indicating labels as valuable tools in this process.

Microorganisms and VA:

Winemaking equipment and surfaces can harbor various microorganisms, including bacteria that produce acetic acid, the primary contributor to VA. These microorganisms thrive in unclean environments, especially when organic matter and residues are present. Therefore, maintaining a clean and sanitized environment throughout the winemaking process is crucial to minimize VA risk.

Cleaning and Sanitation Regimen:

Effective cleaning and sanitation involve a multi-step approach:

  • Pre-cleaning: Thoroughly remove all visible dirt and debris from equipment and surfaces using water and detergent.
  • Cleaning: Apply appropriate cleaning solutions to eliminate contaminants and microorganisms.
  • Sanitizing: Utilize sanitizers to kill any remaining microbes.
  • Rinsing: Rinse thoroughly to remove cleaning and sanitizing agents.

Temperature Control:

Temperature plays a critical role in cleaning and sanitation effectiveness. Most cleaning and sanitizing solutions require specific temperatures to achieve optimal results. For instance, hot water (82°C - 90°C) can be highly effective in removing fats and proteins, while cold water may not be as effective. Similarly, some sanitizers require specific temperature ranges to activate and kill microorganisms.

Temperature Indicating Labels:

Temperature indicating labels are valuable tools for ensuring proper cleaning and sanitation temperatures. These labels change color when exposed to specific temperatures, providing a visual confirmation that the desired temperature has been reached. This eliminates guesswork and ensures that cleaning and sanitation solutions are performing optimally.

Benefits of Temperature Indicating Labels:

  • Ensures accurate temperature control: Eliminates the risk of under or over-cleaning/sanitizing due to inaccurate temperature readings.
  • Promotes consistency: Provides a visual confirmation that procedures are followed consistently, leading to better quality control.
  • Simplifies training: Makes it easier for staff to understand and follow cleaning and sanitation protocols.
  • Reduces risk of VA formation: By ensuring proper cleaning and sanitation temperatures, the risk of VA-producing bacteria is minimized.
  • Improves overall wine quality: Ultimately, consistent and effective cleaning and sanitation practices contribute to the production of high-quality wines with minimal VA.

Implementing comprehensive cleaning and sanitation procedures, including the use of temperature indicating labels, is essential for minimizing VA risk in wine production. By ensuring proper temperature control throughout the cleaning and sanitation process, winemakers can maintain a clean and sanitized environment, and reduce the potential for VA formation. 

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  • Tim Arrowsmith