The Caves of Clos de la Tech
We designed the caves personally after much consultation with experts, and had to be flexible as we went along. For instance, although originally the recommendation was to start with a foundation structure that would support the caves, we learned from Gerhard Sauer – the world-renowned cave expert who built most of the caves in the Alps – that meticulously applying spray-concrete to each section of the excavated dirt wall was faster and created very strong walls and ceilings.
Our winery is in three caves – the Fermentation Cave, the Barrel Cave, and the Bottling Cave – each 30 feet wide, 30 feet high and 300 feet deep.
56 utility stations support our custom-designed fermenters. Each utility station is equipped with cold water, hot water, air, argon/nitrogen and electricity (to power the Cypress Integrated Fermentation Control System – IFCS). The fermentation tanks are placed directly into the special wine press that we designed, which is the subject of its own upcoming blog post. The press is moved from tank to tank. The wine is siphoned from the tank through a hose that drops from the fermentation cave to the barrel cave via a conduit in the wall and the wine goes directly into the barrels.
The barrel cave was designed to accommodate two years' worth of barrels. We use exclusively French oak barrels (Bertrange forest) coopered by Francois Fréres. Unlike their American or Hungarian counterparts, these barrels impart an understated, elegant oak flavor which allows us to use a higher percentage of new wood each harvest without over-oaking the wine.
The bottling cave was designed to accommodate two years’ worth of shiners (bottles without labels) because we bottle age our wine for two more years before we release.
There are several cross caves between each of the working caves allowing us to get back and forth efficiently and communicate with each other while working.
Of course, the caves not only offer the gravity-flow for our winery, but the much-prized stable internal temperature and humidity for producing and aging fine wines.