Ask Wine Wizard

I’ve heard that a lot of wineries are using ozone for their sanitation programs…

TroubleShooting

Bernice Michel — Fillmore, California asks,
Q

I’ve heard that a lot of wineries are using ozone for their sanitation programs. I make about ten barrels of wine a year — should I buy an ozonator machine?

A
Wine Wizard replies: Though ozone is an excellent tool for winery sanitation, the short answer is that unless you’ve got over fifty barrels of wine and sell it for a living, you probably are better off leaving the expensive machines to those that can justify the expense. The machines that generate ozonated water run in the thousands of dollars and at the scale you make wine the extra sanitation benefit you would get probably isn’t worth it. Ozone is an unstable molecule that is a powerful oxidizer. Ozone-generators use UV light to zap air or piped-in oxygen gas (02) into ozone (O3). In most wineries, the ozone gas is then dissolved into a stream of water, which exits the stream as ozonated water and can be used to rinse tanks, barrels, drains, etc. Because oxygen really only likes to exist either in its natural gaseous form (O2) or connected to molecules that are easy for it to turn into, like water (H2O), the third, unstable oxygen atom in ozone is always avidly looking for somewhere else to go. This makes
Response by Alison Crowe.