Turning Water and Energy Into Wine
Here's a taste of how much water and energy it takes to make wine, and how sustainable practices can dramatically reduce wine's water and energy footprint for a bright delicious future.
Challenges in traditional winemaking
- Many older wineries weren't designed with water and energy conservation in mind, plus the infrastructure needed for large-scale monitoring can be costly.
- 35% of medium and large wineries have never had an energy audit.
- The majority of wineries don't know the amount of water and energy it takes to produce a gallon of wine.
- "When you're thoughtful about making a superior wine, it's only natural that you'd do what's best for the Earth" - Jim Collins, Chief Viticulturist for FREI Brothers Reserve.
- Most wineries aren't measuring water usage or total energy usage, such as natural gas, propane, diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.
Strides in sustainable winemaking
- The future is now today's modern vineyards! Technology, plus close monitoring of processes from wine bottling line, allows wineries to make significant cuts in water and energy use.
- Water: 1) Satellite images, soil electrical conductivity maps, and soil moisture probes make sure water is used only where it's needed; 2) Leaf porometer machines show how rapidly plants are using water to produce CO2;
3) Pressure bombs measure stress levels of wines to determine how hard plants are working to pull water from the roots; 4) "Paso Panels" (hand-held solar panels) measure sunlight and calculate how much water the wines need.
- Energy: 1) Large amounts of energy are needed to heat water, deliver i to the appropriate area, treat it, and dispose of it. Closely monitoring that usage reduces those energy needs; 2) Monitoring compressed air usage. A process that
uses an enormous amount of energy; 3) Training employees on electricity conservation at every stage of production.
Sustainability in action
- As demonstrated in their second annual earth Day Report, Frei Brothers Reserve has implemented all of the sustainable winemaking practices above. That means the Sonoma County Winery...
- ...Saved 5.4 million gallons of water in 2012.
- The amount of water needed to supply 54 homes for a year.
- The energy it takes to power 20 homes for a year.
- ...Cut electrical use by 200.000 kilowatt hours in 2012, or set a goal in 2013 to reduce total propane use by 62.000 gallons, which is equal to removing nearly 80 cars from the road each year.
For more on sustainable winemaking and award-winning wines, visit FREI Brothers Reserve on Facebook at Facebook.com/FreiBrothersReserve.
FREI Brothers - Established 1890 | Sources: World Water Day: The Surprising Amount of Water Required to Produce 13 items from Chocolate to wine (Huffington Post, 2011); Thirsty Work (The Economist, 2009);
Water USe in the Winery, by Paul Franson (Wine Business Monthly, 2008); Survey Results: Water and Energy Use in the Winery, by Bill Pregler (Wine Business Monthly, 2011); Benefits of Energy Auditing for Your Winery, by John
Garn (Practical winery & Vineyard Journal, 2005); Water Trivia Facts (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012).
California Table Wine, (c) FREI Brothers Winery, Healdsburg, CA. All rights reserved.