Behind the Scenes: Clarifying Cider with Bentonite Clay

Read ahead for a behind the scenes look at how we make our hard ciders at Round Peak Vineyards!

Today, we are racking off our hard cider from bentonite clay, which is part of the protein stabilization process.

What’s all that about? Let us explain.

Due to the fermentation process, the proteins in wines (and ciders) develop a positive charge that can lead to a cloudy, murky coloring and sedimentation. Our goal is to have a clear, beautiful cider with as little residual sedimentation as possible, because no one wants to drink murky cider! 

Bentonite clay is a dense earth material and has a negative charge, so adding the clay to the cider after fermentation allows for the positive proteins in the cider (which cause cloudiness) to become neutralized by the negatively charged clay. Once it has had time to neutralize the cider, the bentonite sediment containing the unwanted positively charged proteins settles at the bottom of the tank, leaving clear, neutralized cider on top.

The next step is to “rack” (essentially, drain) the clear cider left on top of the sediment. We feed a hose into the tank, and pump the neutralized cider into a clean tank, which is what you see in the video. And then we drain the excess sediment left in the bottom of the original tank and clean the tank to use for our next batch. Simple right??

Neutralizing is actually not always a necessary process. In fact, we do not neutralize our red wines because the sedimentation and cloudiness that result from the fermentation process are not visible due to the dark color of the wine. Neutralizing is far more popular for white wines and rosés, and in today’s case, cider! See the photo to the left for a visual of what wine looks before and after neutralizing (we do not own this photo).

In case you’re wondering, foregoing the neutralizing process does not affect the safety or quality of the beverage for consumption. Essentially, neutralizing is more about optimizing the appearance of the finished product. We take this extra step so you can revel in the clarity of the product in its bottle or in your glass.

We love sharing information with you about the processes behind our products and hope you learned something new from this post!

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