Friday, 9 April 2010

A Little Bit of Vat Juggling!

With the Chai now empty and only remaining so for a very short period of time we have to work fast! The first and most important thing to do is the vat calibration. The calibration is required by law so as to determine the exact (to the millilitre) volume of the vats, this is very helpful when blending but is actually designed to stop wineries hiding extra taxable wine in the cellar. The vats, once calibrated and certificated with a special stainless steel engraved plate welded to its side are then also welded to floor and each foot bound with an official unbreakable seal. Sounds simple? Well...

Over the last couple of months I have been orchestrating all the necessary tradesman and officials required to do the job to arrive at the same time. This morning was a good turn out by French standards with only one person absent! Franck from the stainless steel vat manufacturer was in his usual fine jolly form and quickly organising his 3 man team to move the huge vat into its final resting place before being fixed permanently to the floor. Not quite as easy as it sounds, as there is also the small matter of a large catwalk and safety rails welded on top of all vats and at the same time I was busy moving wine around so the tanks were empty!

The electrician was on hand to move the delicate thermometers, temperature control computers and lighting, the cooling system expert was on hand to drain the cooling belts, re-align, cut and weld the cooling circuit, the legal official wearing a suit and constantly flicking through a very large document from the calibration authority with his endless knit-picking and bellowing out of ridiculous rules and regulations was just annoying everyone!

After a long day of modifying, moving, welding and levelling the vats are in the right place and the man in the suit is happy that the calibration of the vats can go ahead next Monday. Lets hope they don’t create any more regulations between now and next Monday!

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