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Rocket man: JMA director Andy Moldovan with his prototype stainless steel fermentation egg. It began life as a joke but may still prove to be a major hit.

Rocket man: JMA director Andy Moldovan with his prototype stainless steel fermentation egg. It began life as a joke but may still prove to be a major hit.

WINE fermentation is being taken to infinity – and beyond. As a boutique winemaking tool the egg-shaped fermenter is gaining a cult following in Australia.

The egg shape was developed centuries ago – in the clay vessel days – as a means of holding liquid in a stable manner on the ground.

There are some natural advantages in the shape that promote convection currents which influence the fermentation process.

Today egg fermenters are currently produced in clay, porcelain and ceramic and concrete mediums.

But now one of Australia’s most experienced stainless steel fabricators have put a modern spin on an old theme by addressing some of the disadvantages of the traditional fermenter and created the world’s first stainless steel egg.

South Australia’s JMA Engineering national sales manager Mark Johnson says the advantages of stainless fermenters are:

They allow larger, more economical vessels.

  • Easier sanitising.
  • Controlled temperature.
  • Micro oxygenisation with jets.
  • Larger drain fittings.
  • Hygienic lids allowing for storage of wines post ferment.

Johnson says complex engineering and fabrication techniques have been required to achieve those advantages and JMA Engineering is hoping to showcase its expertise by releasing the stainless version egg onto the world market.

Needless to say they are eggstatic with the result.

And this mind-blowing bit of engineering is way out there – with a capacity more than twice the size of its nearest, non-steel rival.

So cutting edge is this prototype it is still the only one in the world.

Johnson says the next stage in the launch of their super egg will be to deliver it to one of the state’s bigger wineries to let the winemaker have a play with it during next vintage.

“It started out as a lark, but once everyone here started to look at it seriously it quickly became a major project,” Johnson says.

“To make a normal fermenter normally takes us about four days,” he says.

“This was four weeks in design and fabrication and another four weeks in getting the construction just right.”

Full story in the July 2014 issue of Grapegrower & Winemaker.

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