Penticton's Winecrush wins federal grant

Wine innovation granted

An Okanagan-based company is receiving research and development support from Agriculture and Agri Food Canada for its innovative “Marlee” Project.

Winecrush’s new biomechanical process transforms food grade wine derivatives -- typically discarded after harvest and crush -- into a high-performance flavour enhancement ingredient.

Funding is being awarded to Winecrush through its Agricultural Clean Technology (ACT) program, which invests in the research, development, and adoption of clean technologies leading to the promotion of agri-based bioproducts.

“We are honoured to receive support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Their ACT program was a perfect fit for our stage of development,” Bill Broddy, co-founder and President of Winecrush said in a press release. “The Marlee Project is designed to give wineries an effective alternative for the derivatives from the winemaking process, rather than let these food grade materials go to waste.”

The company takes materials that would usually be sent to the landfill or left on winery property, which leads to methane emissions and soil contamination, and converts them into natural food additives suitable for a variety of health and food products, “with both high nutritional and monetary value.”

Ten Okanagan based wineries have worked Winecrush to collect their pomace (also known as marc, the grape skins and seeds left after grapes are pressed), and lees (the sediment left behind).

According to the release, a total of 150 tonnes of wine derivative was saved from landfills, avoiding the release of a total of 6,500 kilograms of methane, the equivalent of 175* carbon credits.

“We weren’t sure what to expect when we signed up to partner with Winecrush, but their vision for sustainability and environmental preservation seemed to be in line with what we are trying to achieve here at Stag’s Hollow Winery,” Kiera LeFranc, a local winemaker said.

“The team at Winecrush was extremely responsive in addressing any questions and concerns we brought forth, and they were diligent in ensuring the entire process was as non-disruptive, easy, and streamlined as possible. We are very excited to partner with them again for the upcoming 2021 harvest season, and we appreciate the focus on environmental sustainability that their initiative is bringing to the wine industry.”

Based on the success of the program supported by Agriculture and Agri Food Canada so far, Winecrush is already putting plans in place for the 2021 harvest.

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