Depth Filtration in Wine Making: How is this Done?

Blog | November 21st, 2019

Depth filtration, otherwise known as dead-end filtration, has been utilized by winemakers for centuries. Even at present, they are still continuing to learn how to best apply filtration. As more and more advanced methods of filtration rose to existence, more options have become available for winemakers to choose from.

Actual Process

The deep filtration process in winemaking occurs when the wine is directed at a perpendicular towards the filter medium. The wine goes directly into the medium, hereby garnering the term dead-end. The filtered particles, otherwise known as retentate, are deposited either inside or against the filter medium, while the clean wine passes through. The more retentate deposited, the lesser the flow rate. Once the filter reaches its limit of retentate deposit, the operator will now clean the filtration setup before restarting.

There are four forms of depth filters commonly used namely pressure-leaf, plate and frame, lenticular and cartridge. These forms vary in characteristics and are appropriated for use in several aspects of winemaking.

Pressure Leaf Depth Filtration

Pressure-leaf depth filtration is often utilised in with medium and large wineries due to their high flow rate and ability to handle wines with higher solids levels. They are not practical to use in small wineries due to its costly equipment. There is also a significant volume of wine loss during a pressure leaf depth filtration.

Plate and Frame Depth Filtration

Plate and frame depth filtration uses stainless steel frame that holds a varying number of plates usually 20 to 60 plates. This stainless steel frame, otherwise known as filter pads, is placed between the plated to allow wine flow through alternating plates/pads. They can also be fitted with a crossover plate to allow two different levels of filtration on a single pass. They can be used for small-batch filtration.

Lenticular Depth Filtration

Lenticular depth filtration holds a lot of similarities with plate and frame. However, they have discs instead of pads and are stacked vertically as opposed to horizontally. They are also used in small-batch filtration, much easier to setup, operate, and clean than pad filters. This then saves time and decreases the need of a skilled operator.

Cartridge Depth Filtration

Lastly, cartridge depth filtration is often used by small and large wineries as polishing filters, in-line from the storage vessel to the bottling line. This is often a method of ensuring sterile filtration up to the filter cartridge. They are also are the best suited for home winemakers. The filter housings and cartridges are relatively inexpensive, but low flow rates and poor ability to handle wines with high sediment levels make them unfeasible in most production settings.

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