Naramata wineries look at reducing their grape crush waste into biofuel

Wine waste into useful fuel

Casey Richardson

Wineries are looking into converting their waste into energy along the Naramata Bench, taking the byproduct from grape crushing and dehydrating it for another use.

Eco-Growth Environmental Inc. founder Glen Smith was demonstrating how the process works at Deep Roots Winery on Tuesday to winery owners, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen staff and the City of Penticton, taking the leftover skins, seeds, stems from wine grapes and drying them.

While the grape crush product is usually left to decompose on the land or be taken away to the landfill, Smith explained that this process gives the chance to greatly reduce the amount of waste and create a by-product that can be used again.

“It's creating efficiency in their waste. What our technology does is this is an organic dryer and we dry the organics to reduce the size and weight by a minimum of 80 per cent. It renders into a dry, shelf stable, pathogen free product with no smell, which then can be turned into something later,” Smith added.

According to the information done on the Deep Roots case study by Eco-Growth, the potential CO2 reduction equates to 231,636 pounds by taking away their waste from the landfill and cutting out the transportations emissions.

“We've done the calculation of whether it's put in landfill and how much greenhouse gas that creates, and the reduction that it would be if they were to do something a little bit different than what they're currently doing.”

The dehydrated grape crush could be used as a biofuel, a fertilizer or even a natural preservative.

“One company uses our equipment to dehydrate their coffee grinds. After he dries the coffee grinds after the brew process, he squeezes the oils out and he makes a coffee flour.”

The company offers waste stream products for breweries, distillers, food waste, manure and fishing and agriculture.

For one Naramata bench winery, it’s the opportunity to become more eco-friendly, since they produce 40 tonnes of grape crush waste in a year.

Deep Roots Winery owner and winemaker Will Hardman explained that typically, some of the grape crush would be piled up and spread back into the vineyard, letting it compost on its own naturally.

“So doing it in a more efficient manner just makes sense ... It's the way everyone's going. We'd like to be more efficient with our waste and if we can use it in different ways, all the better,” he added.

“If we could turn this, what would be waste or be left rotting away in the vineyard, if we can turn that stuff into a product that can earn an income, great. if not, at least we're reducing the waste at the end of the day.”

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