Maintaining the Angels Share: Preventing Distillery Evaporation

When distillers make whisky, a small amount evaporates through the barrels and into the heavens. It’s known as the “angel’s share.” In winemaking, when wine evaporates during the aging process, it’s called product loss. Over the course of three years, a barrel can lose 14% of its wine. For a small, family-owned winery like Miramont Estate, that’s a lot of product loss.

The 40-acre vineyard and winery, operated by Dave Pechan, produces and sells a variety of red and white wines through online bulk sales and onsite purchases. The farm is nestled in the Sierra Mountain foothills outside of Linden, California. Unlike nearby San Francisco, Linden is hot and dry all year round. Producing great soil for the grapes but bad air to age the wine.

The ideal humidity level for long-term barrel storage is about 70%. When the humidity level drops lower, you evaporate too much water out of your barrel, thus increasing the alcohol content in the remaining wine. If the humidity level is too high, you lose more alcohol from the barrel decreasing the alcohol level in the wine.

The heat and the dry air create prime conditions for wine to evaporate while it ages. The heat expands the oak barrels and the dry air quickly evaporates the valuable goods inside. Pechan worked hard to grow and harvest the grapes and wine evaporating in the barrel is the equivalent of hard-earned money disappearing right in front of him.

Miramont has done everything he can to prevent product loss. Aging all the wine on-site in a 20-foot tall steel barrelhouse with urethane foam insulation to protect against the heat. This is where we come in, to keep the barrelhouse humid, Pechan mists the barrels with two Spray Nozzles from Vortec.

Vortec Spray Nozzles provide ultra-fine droplet-sized sprays for humidification. The liquid stream is entrained by high velocity compressed air to create a range of micron-level spray droplets, resulting in greater surface coverage than conventional nozzles. Vortec Spray Nozzles for humidifying come in a wide spray with droplet sizes from 20-200 microns and liquid viscosities up to 100 cP. 

The efficient use of the liquid provides effective humidifying, helping to keep the dry California air moist, resulting in less expansion of the oak barrels in the barrelhouse. Since the wood can’t expand, all that hard-earned money stays right there in the barrel. Those thirsty cherubim are denied their angel’s share, and the award-winning wine is saved for the rest of us.


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