Gravity Flow Winemaking

Gravity-flow winemaking is a practice that is becoming well recognized by winemakers and vino fanatics. The process of gravity-flow winemaking (also known as “gravity-fed”), allows for the wine to stream through levels in the winery. Unlike traditional single-level cellars, there is no use of pumps or mechanical force, enabling the winemaker to gently extract colour, flavour and tannin.

Although gravity flow seems to be a new technique in the wine world, the process has actually been around since the 1800s and is a highlight of Australian winemaking history. In 1888, Seppeltsfield Estate in the famous Barossa Valley used gravity flow for almost 100 years. By 2010, the winery was remodelled with a million-dollar investment to include top of the line industry equipment.

What Happens in a Gravity-flow Winery?

The typical gravity-flow winery consists of four levels that follow regular winemaking steps. However, each stage is separated into different floor levels, allowing gravity to move the wine from crushing to cellaring.

The Four Steps of Gravity Flow Winemaking

A gravity-flow winery consists of mainly four steps to take the grapes from fruit to wine. Read on to learn more about each step and what it involves.

Step 1: Crush Pack

Clusters of grapes are brought by a forklift to the top floor of the winery where they are destemmed and crushed. The juice from the grapes slides to the fermentation barrels on a lower level through hoses that connect each level.

Step 2: Fermentation/Crush Pad

Regular fermentation takes place where natural or added yeasts turn grape juice into alcohol. Wineries are usually equipped with temperature control measures such as double-jacketed fermentation tanks. The wine is then pressed and it flows to the lower level.

Step 3: Cellar

The wine is drained from the fermentation tanks into barrels in the cellar. The wine sits in the barrels aging until it is ready to be bottled.

Step 4: Bottling

Bottling the wine typically uses nitrogen to push finished wine into bottles. However, the finishing touches vary according to the winery’s filtering, fining and settling choices.

What Are the Benefits of Gravity-Flow Winemaking?

Preserve Those Flavours

A gravity-flow winemaking process enhances the textures of wine. There is no excessive moving, pushing or external forces that are exerted on the wine. The system is gentle and allows the natural flavours and aromas of wine to develop. 

In this video, Palmaz Vineyards shows off their innovative gravity-fed winery and how it was constructed.

Stratus Vineyards in Ontario is one of the few wineries that have embraced the gravity-flow winemaking process. They employ the use of a four-storey tank elevator that helps them move the wine around without any pumps involved that can introduce air into the wine and compromise its flavours. Instead, the wine flows due to gravity from stainless steel or oak fermenters into selected barrels to age. This allows the grapes to shine within the wine. 

Efficient and Sustainable Winemaking

Wineries that don’t employ the gravity-flow system typically use pumps and machinery to move the wine around during the winemaking process. With no machinery or pumps needed, a gravity-flow system greatly reduces a winery’s costs and energy consumption. 

What Are the Downfalls of a Gravity-Fed Winery?

You’ll Need Some Capital Upfront

There can be some downfalls to using a gravity-fed system for a winery. They can typically be costly to start up due to the costs of setting up the equipment at first. If a winery is thinking of transitioning to a gravity-flow system they may have to plan for incurred costs. 

Architecture Matters

The way a winery is built can play an important role in whether a gravity-flow system can be employed or not. Usually, the building must be multiple stories to allow for the wine to flow easily during the winemaking process. Some buildings may not have the space to use this system. 

It’s All About a Winery’s Individual Needs

The way a winery chooses to make their wine is usually specific to their individual needs and budgets. There have been many wineries in France and even Napa Valley that have chosen to use this method. Palmaz Vineyards, in Napa Valley, for instance, have been able to contribute to reducing water consumption when making wine. Some wineries choose to take advantage of their environment and terroir. Stoller Family Estate in Oregon has chosen to utilize the natural hillside when building their gravity-flow winery. Gravity-flow systems can definitely be ideal in some instances, and with some forethought and planning can become cheaper and more efficient in the long run. 

Learn More with WineCollective

Subscribe to become a WineCollective member today to keep learning and exploring the world of wine, one winemaking method at a time!

Welcome to Wine – wine journals

Keeping a wine journal is a helpful practice for wine beginners and professionals alike. Unless you are able to memorize each bottle you have ever tried, filling out a page or two of details can help you remember what made the vintage so special… or dreadful.


A typical journal makes space for you to list the name of the wine, vintage as well as the region and country it came from. You can also record tasting descriptions (eyes, nose, mouth) and additional notes or overall ratings. Most wine journals, like Wine Enthusiast’s leather bound journal ($34.95) also have areas for tasting date, alcohol, price, date purchased and where, food pairing and cellaring information. Basically, these notes make going back and finding the bottle you enjoyed six months ago a breeze.

Label areas are another feature typically included in a wine journal. After removing a label* from the bottle, pasting it among the notes really completes an entry and gives you a visual to find the vintage later on. You can remove a label easily at home.


If you prefer not to take the chance of getting burnt, label removers are essentially large pieces of adhesive that rip the label from the bottle. Labeloff sells 10 stickers for $8 and up to 1,000 for $400.


As a member of WineCollective you receive tasting cards with each bottle you receive with your package. With all the research done for you, these can help you write out each section of your journal – some of which include a slot to store technical sheets or cards such as ours. Through your WineCollective account online you can also view information on every wine sent to your door. Under “My Wines,” you can share your ratings and comments on every vintage you receive with the WineCollective community.

Purchasing a wine journal does not have to come at a price. If fancy leather isn’t your thing, Chapters sells a wide variety starting at $10. Or, if you’re really hesitant on carrying a book to dinner this weekend (you may look nerdy) then there is an app for that. Smart phones also have a large selection of wine apps, including Wine Journal for $1.99. It allows you to note much of the same information as a hard copy and snap photos to go along with the description.


Whichever route you choose, we guarantee keeping a wine journal is a handy exercise. You will definitely be glad you did it when you’d really like another glass of that Pinot Blanc we sent you last month… What was it called again?

Cork or screw cap?

CorkCraftPIn the last ten years the cork industry has seen dramatic changes in desire for their product. Although cork is a 100 per-cent natural and renewable material, wineries are enclosing their bottles with synthetic or plastic mocks due to tainted wine.

With 50 per-cent of the globe’s cork production, Portugal has experienced a decline of their main industry which accounts for 16 per-cent of the country’s foreign income. Although the screw cap alternatives are easier to handle, various factors of ecological responsibility are ignored for the non-traditional method of “poppin’ bottles.”

Every nine years, a cork oak tree is stripped of its bark to produce the light and flexible cork material. This processes helps the tree re-new and strive to live for up to 300 years. Apart from wine stoppers, the cork industry has expanded to flooring, footwear and unique crafting ideas (to name a few). However, these uses may not be enough to support Portugal’s 500 factories and 50,000 industry professionals.


Making up 5.3 million acres of forest, these special oak trees are home to many endangered species. As a major source for CO2 retention, it is no argument that cork provides a friendly green advantage over plastic stoppers, which produce 10-24 times more greenhouse gases.CorkGreenhouseGases

António Rios de Amorim of APCOR or the Portuguese Cork Association says he believes that there has been a 30 per-cent reduction in cork output since 2001.

Amorim Cork is the largest producer of the natural stopper, with 3.2 billion produced in 2010. They are also responsible for the creation of ReCork by Amorim. This organization reuses old corks (corks to date 41,220,110) to create footwear with their partner SOLE. This movement also strengthens Portuguese forests by planting more of the protected tree. So far they have planted 8,472 Cork Oak trees in the last several years. ReCork has a number of drop-off locations in Canada, where you can put your cork collection to valuable use.


Obviously a preference exists for wine drinkers everywhere. Depending on your love for convenience or the economy, the stopper choice of a winery my influence your purchase. While cork is essential for aging wines gracefully, screw caps are very handy if you’re planning on opening the bottle as soon as you get home. The ritual, however, of opening a bottle does not have the same effect with a screw cap. Amorim said, “The only argument in favour of screw caps is now convenience. But what you gain in convenience you lose in style.” What is your preference?

Graffiti and wine

A micro-documentary of the 2012 MyFinBEC project where graffiti and street art meet wine. Eight international artists from around the world met in June 2012 to paint on wooden canvases made of 84 wine crates. These paintings were then used as wine labels. Visit to order limited edition wine cases.

No Corkscrew, No Worries



 has great ways to open that wonderful bottle of vino without a corkscrew. And in all honestly, how useful! How many times have we been stranded out camping or on vacation and we don’t have a corkscrew.

It seems funny how it is so easy to forget that corkscrew but we never forget the wine! Wiki describes many ways to open a wine bottle but I think the most convenient and easiest way is the “Hit Method”:

  1. Wrap the bottom of the wine bottle with a towel and place phone book (probably any soft book) against a wall or tree.
  2. Hit the bottom of the bottle against the wall or tree.
  3. The cork should have partially come out, then remove it with your hands.

Some of their other suggestions include: cheap wire coat hanger, 2 paperclips and a pen, finding a bicycle hook, leather bootlace, corn on the cob holder and 5 nails & a hammer. Check it out here, or even let WineCollective know if you have your own way without a corkscrew!

Facebook Contest Winner

WineCollective would like to congratulate Kayla G., on winning our Facebook Photo Contest. Kayla G.’s photo “Relax&UnWind” was selected as a finalist and then went on to receive the most votes to win $150 to WineCollective!

We couldn’t have been more impressed with the photos that were submitted and we would like to thank everyone for participating, either by submitting a photo or voting for their favourite!

Remember, you can like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop with everything that has to do with WineCollective.

Win $150 to WineCollective

Have you ever taken the most awe-inspiring photo of your favourite wine but have no way to show it off? Here is your chance!

We would love to see what photos you have with a glass of vino or anything to do with wine. Be unique, be creative, bring out the photographer in you! The winner will receive a wine package worth up to $150 from WineCollective.

Check out our Facebook page for more details or submit your photos to

Must be legal drinking age. Your own photos and your own creativity.

Photos must be submitted by the 22nd.  Voting starts July 23rd to the 29th, winner will be announced July 30th.

Have fun and drink responsibly!

Tasting Card Makeover

WineCollective‘s tasting cards got a makeover! If you receive a monthly package of great wine from us, you probably have noticed that the tasting cards have been revamped.  We hope you like them as much as we do!

The new design will be easier to store and catalogue. Also, the close-up image of the label will make it easier to find your new favourite bottle at the liquor store.  The online version of the notes have undergone a refresh as well.  We have made it easier to comment and rate the wines you receive, so make sure you tell us what you think!

An unspillable wine glass

saturn wine glasses

Saturn wine glasses – by Christopher Yamane

In ‘saturn wine glasses‘, american art student christopher yamane of fragile studios adapts traditional glassblowing techniques towards the creation of an unspillable drinking glass. the rounded-bottomed, stemless piece features a handblown rim that serves as both fill line as well as a support frame for the glass, preventing it from spilling even when tipped over.

To create the pieces, yamane reappropriates a centuries-old italian glassblowing technique traditionally used
for the production of goblet lids. by folding a bubble of glass, trapping air within it, he creates the ‘saturn ring’
that circumferences the bowl.

Via Design Boom

Concept wine storage cork

This is a pretty cool concept. I could even see using this as a simple temperature gage for when you bring the bottle to the table.

“Winery is a digital bottle stopper with a sensor that goes into the bottleneck and keeps a tab on the wine. It even relays useful information like temperature, expiry date of the wine via WiFi to your smartphone app. Kinda like keeping a digital eye on your drink!”

Designers: Kwang-wi Park and Eun-ji Lim

Via Yanko Design

Our New Packaging

Most people who received their June shipment will have seen our new and improved packaging.  The boxes are essentially the same, but the inserts are custom built for wine shipment by our friends at Beaver Plastics and are made in Canada!

They are made out of EPS (expanded polystyrene) and bear the number 6 recycle number. They are fully recyclable, where facilities exist (each Alberta community is different).

The new shippers are what we call “bullet proof”. We have conducted extensive testing with a number of different alternatives and picked this solution because of its robustness but also its reusability.

We love our packaging and think that beyond just getting your wine to you once a month, it can be usefully reused as well.

  • They are fantastic if you’re going camping or to the cabin. You don’t have to worry about breaking your wine and you have something to store it in on arrival.
  • Bringing wine on a road trip? Can’t ask for a better or more convenient packaging!
  • Also a useful storage unit for around the house (but we wouldn’t recommend aging wine in it)

We’re going to be putting a few videos up on the blog within the next couple of weeks.