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Home Glycol Cooling Systems

Glycol cooling systems have been fixtures in commercial wineries for many years. Often using large, permanently mounted refrigeration compressors, they circulate a chilled solution of propylene glycol through pipes arranged throughout the cellar. At each cooled tank, connections allow for the circulation of the chilled glycol through a jacket surrounding the wine or must. Digital controllers monitor the temperature in each tank, sometimes reporting to a central control booth that allows for remote adjustments. I have long admired systems like these because I recognize that temperature control is one of the most important variables in making consistent, excellent wine at home. Like many home winemakers, I considered glycol systems to be out of reach due to size and cost. I have relied on the same variety of makeshift techniques I have talked with other home winemakers about. I put fermenters for white wines in my wine cellar with a through-the-wall cooling unit set at 55° F (13° C). I have used frozen jugs of water to cool a red must while the crushed grapes soak and my former business partner,