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Winery - Casa da Torre

By Carlos Castanheira

 

A winery is no longer what it used to be.

I once knew wineries where cobwebs and dust, were the sign of time passing and of the times.

Time was also, almost always, the sign of quality, as the wine that got preserved over time, at the time, was good wine, which got even better after being left there for a few years.

Wineries are changing and they no longer have room for dust nor for cobwebs.

Now they are true laboratories, ruled by strict laws of employment and hygiene. They obeying a finely tuned science of dosage, temperature control, accelerated or slowed down, with more or less chemistry. In some cases, a winery is a place of real alchemy.

The Winery of Casa da Torre already existed, as good wine was already being produced at the property. The will to produce more wine, better and in accordance with the new rules led to having to rethink the winery and inevitably to enlarge it.

The siting and orientation are excellent. Half buried into the site, its southern side is sheltered from direct sunshine and resulting high temperatures. The western side also is sheltered. To the north, is a high and thick granite wall. To the east, are the access and entrance areas.

The extension added only what was necessary, trying to respect what was already there. 
The transformation started at roof level: from a complex variety of different structures and planes a two way pitched roof was created.
A cross span of 18 meters forced the introduction of a row of central pillars, which were undesired and undesirable and which were therefore reduced to a minimum.
The roof structure in laminated timber is a simple one, despite the four stanchions that emerge from each pillar, to support the roof trusses.
Steel cables are used to restrain the great horizontal thrust generated by the weight of the structure and roof finishes. 
Inside, the choice of materials was guided by the parameters of hygiene, durability and maintenance.
The timber vats and tubs were replaced by stainless steel tanks rigorously lined up, with their generous bellies, some full, others waiting to receive the precious nectar.
Over the granite outdoor tank, sits the volume of the small office, both outside and inside, trying to connect the two spaces.
Access is from a stairs, also in timber. An elevated gantry allows for circulation and connects the higher levels of the site to the west with that of the office floor.
The roof overhangs the stone paved entrance, in so doing covers the arrival space, the toilets and a “vat” which is the laboratory. 
Light, only as much as is needed, is filtered through a timber screen. 
Inside, the wine is kept, maturing, after the business of the harvest, the crushing, the fermentation and all the knowledge inherent to this process.
The works at the winery led to the re-thinking of the external space. Some trees were transplanted, some stones moved, some new tanks were built, as in the old times, with floors of great stone slabs. 
Some water sources that had been forgotten were again tapped into and used.
The winery is no longer what it used to be. It is now better, as is the wine.
It is fresh, as is the wine. The green wine.

 

May of 2009
Carlos Castanheira

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Description and justification of Casa da Torre Winery

The winery has an approximate area of 600m2, with exterior walls made from granite and interior walls clad with Trespa panels. The sandstone mosaic floor lies below a clay-tile roof supported on a wooden bracing structure.

The winery is equipped to turn 100,000kg of white grapes and 4000kg of red grapes into 68,000 litres of white, rosé and red wine.

The grapes come from three estates belonging to the family – Quinta da Senra, Quinta da Casa Do Cruzeiro, and Quinta da Casa da Torre – totalling 21 hectares of vineyards.

Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Alvarinho, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc white grape varieties and Vinhão and Borraçal red grape varieties are cultivated.
The grapes arrive at the winery in 15kg boxes and are then destemmed and crushed, falling directly into the presses or vats, depending on whether they are white or red, respectively.
No pumps are used during the winemaking process (unloading of grapes into the destemmer/crusher, filling of presses and decanting vats), which relies entirely on gravity.
Given the considerable variations in temperature during the harvest season, the winery has been fitted with a cold processing unit and an automated network in order to control temperature during fermentation.
The wine is stored in 316-grade stainless steel tanks.

capacidade de armazenamento é de 91.000 litros tendo os depósitos as seguintes características:

-15 x 5000L 316-grade stainless steel tanks, with cooling jackets;
-1 x 5000L 316-grade stainless steel stabilisation tank;
-3 x 2500L 316-grade stainless steel tanks;
-1 x 2500L 316-grade stainless steel stabilisation tank;
-1 x 4500L 316-grade stainless steel tank for red wine fermentation;

There is a total storage capacity of 91,000 litres, made up as follows:

-23,000fg refrigeration unit, with a 1000L lung tank and a distribution system to all tanks with electrically operated valves controlled via a programmable panel.
-1 water treatment system with general and particle filtration and bacteriological treatment with polishing filter and ultra-violet sterilisation. 
-1 destemmer with a maximum capacity of 12 tonnes per hour.
-1 horizontal plate press for whites, with an approximate capacity of 4000kg of destemmed grapes.
-1 horizontal pneumatic press for whites, with an approximate capacity of 4000 kg of destemmed grapes.
-1 vertical press for reds, with an approximate capacity of 1500kg of fermented husks.
-1 stainless steel tube system from presses to vats, with three-way taps.
-2 conveyor screens for removing marc.
-2 plunger pumps.
-1 electrical pump with bypass.
-1 filter comprising 20 40x40cm plates;
-1 wash compressor.

Bottling, labelling and packaging are subcontracted out.
Bottles are then stored in suitable containers.

Water comes from the public water mains.

There are plans for an electrical distribution system to provide power for lighting and motors in accordance with the relevant statutory safety regulations. This will be fed from an existing mains connection at the site.
There is a general distribution board designed to feed power socket and motor circuits, general lighting circuits and emergency lighting circuits.
The contracted power is 34.5kVA. Monthly consumption at full capacity will be approximately 2500KWh.
There are three-phase and single-phase power sockets and 24V sockets for inspection lamps.

The resulting by-products of wine production – stems, marc and lees – are used in the vineyards in accordance with intervention measures in the wine sector regarding withdrawal under supervision of winemaking by-products for distillation.

Wastewater will be incorporated into the municipal Cru / FD8 interceptor according to a protocol established with Águas do Ave S.A.

There are changing rooms and toilets in the winery building itself.

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A winery is no longer what it used to be.

I once knew wineries where cobwebs and dust, were the sign of time passing and of the times.

Time was also, almost always, the sign of quality, as the wine that got preserved over time, at the time, was good wine, which got even better after being left there for a few years.

Wineries are changing and they no longer have room for dust nor for cobwebs.

Now they are true laboratories, ruled by strict laws of employment and hygiene. They obeying a finely tuned science of dosage, temperature control, accelerated or slowed down, with more or less chemistry. In some cases, a winery is a place of real alchemy.

The Winery of Casa da Torre already existed, as good wine was already being produced at the property. The will to produce more wine, better and in accordance with the new rules led to having to rethink the winery and inevitably to enlarge it.