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Recycling Jackson Family Wines is introducing a new high tech water recycling system that could save one billion gallons per year

Published on January 6th, 2010 | by Tina Casey

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New Recycling Technology Turns Winery into Water Saver



Jackson Family Wines is introducing a new high tech water recycling system that could save one billion gallons per yearWineries are notorious for using large amounts of water, with estimates ranging up to 20 gallons of water needed to produce a singe gallon of wine. Jackson Family Wines is one wine maker that has found a high tech way to put a billion-gallon dent in its own annual water consumption, and the implications could be enormous for wine rich, water poor states like California.

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Jackson Family’s new water recycling system has just completed a “proof of concept” pilot run certified by the University of California at Davis.  Once in full swing, the system will involve about 70% of the winery’s water use, which primarily goes to rinsing barrels and tanks.  The new system will recycle 90% of that water for up to ten rinses but wait, there’s more: the recycled water also keeps 75% of its heat, which will save a significant amount of energy that would otherwise be needed to warm up cold water.

Water and Wine

Though some wine makers are pushing the consumption envelope down to less than two gallons of water per gallon of wine, the rule of thumb for California planners is six gallons, and many older wineries use far more.  That’s fine for wineries located in regions with more than adequate rainfall, but it’s past the point of working in drought-weary California.  Oregon is another wine state that is also at risk of water overconsumption.

Jackson Family Wines and Wastewater

Jackson Family worked in partnership with vinyard/winery wastewater and engineering specialists Heritage Systems Inc. and Riechers Spence and Associates to implement a system that removes wine dregs as part of the filtering process.  This organic material could potentially be used as compost (pdf quick view), or it could produce sustainable biogas in a biodigester system.  Currently the company is commercializing the pilot project at its Kendall-Jackson winery in Sonoma County, where it is expected to save six million gallons of water, 133,000 kilowatts of electricity, and 73,000 therms of natural gas.

Sustainability and the U.S. Wine Industry

Wine grapes are especially sensitive to climate change, and California vinyards and wineries have been taking the lead on adopting solar energy and other sustainability measures along with new water conservation technologies.  If adopted on an industry-wide scale, as the Jackson Family company hopes, winery water conservation could help provide some much needed relief for California’s water woes, and support a nationwide trend in stabilizing water consumption in the U.S. overall.

Image: Wine barrels by jdn on flickr.com.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • http://www.uspassportnow.com/ Kristen

    It’s great that a solution was explored to save water consumption and that’s also cheaper in the long. Sounds like a viable plan. Hope it works out and more wineries decide to jump onboard.

  • http://www.uspassportnow.com/ Kristen

    It’s great that a solution was explored to save water consumption and that’s also cheaper in the long. Sounds like a viable plan. Hope it works out and more wineries decide to jump onboard.

  • http://rsacivil.com Hugh Linn

    Bob,

    Great questions. Mike Long with Heritage Systems and I have researched this technology with Kendall Jackson Winery for over two years. We completed an extensive pilot project at the Cardinale Winery in Yountville, Ca. Our initial goals were:

    1) Establish that the filtration process will produce water suitable for rewash.

    2) Develop 20-year life cycle cost (including operations) for the system and campare this with the conentional treatment alternatives.

    What we learned from our pilot work is:

    1) The filtered water exceeds drinking water standards and has substantially lower TDS (Total Disolved Solids) found in well water.

    2) The initial cost of this system for a winery that produces more than 100K gallons of wine per year is about 50% the cost of an aerated pond. However, the operation costs of this system is expected to exceed the cost of operating a pond. Over a 20-year life, our estimates show that this system ends up costing about 80% of the cost of a pond. We believe this system will save money and reduce water use by 70 to 80 percent.

    We are marketing this system under the name Kantharos Process Water Systems (Kantharoswater.com). We are going to be in booth 20 at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento at the end of the month. Please come by and see us if you have any other questions.

  • http://rsacivil.com Hugh Linn

    Bob,

    Great questions. Mike Long with Heritage Systems and I have researched this technology with Kendall Jackson Winery for over two years. We completed an extensive pilot project at the Cardinale Winery in Yountville, Ca. Our initial goals were:

    1) Establish that the filtration process will produce water suitable for rewash.

    2) Develop 20-year life cycle cost (including operations) for the system and campare this with the conentional treatment alternatives.

    What we learned from our pilot work is:

    1) The filtered water exceeds drinking water standards and has substantially lower TDS (Total Disolved Solids) found in well water.

    2) The initial cost of this system for a winery that produces more than 100K gallons of wine per year is about 50% the cost of an aerated pond. However, the operation costs of this system is expected to exceed the cost of operating a pond. Over a 20-year life, our estimates show that this system ends up costing about 80% of the cost of a pond. We believe this system will save money and reduce water use by 70 to 80 percent.

    We are marketing this system under the name Kantharos Process Water Systems (Kantharoswater.com). We are going to be in booth 20 at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento at the end of the month. Please come by and see us if you have any other questions.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    Due to their inherent connection to the earth, and relationship to water, rain and soil, the wine industry has long been at the forefront of building sustainable businesses. Other industries could learn much from them.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    Due to their inherent connection to the earth, and relationship to water, rain and soil, the wine industry has long been at the forefront of building sustainable businesses. Other industries could learn much from them.

  • http://extremegreenvillage.com Bob Henry

    This is a great story. And this is a great triumph.

    The big question is “ballpark” how much does it cost and how much does it handle per year?

    How much does it cost per gallon to recycle the water?

    Can the same thing be done across the board and can it be done as cheaply as using water as usual.

    It really doesn’t matter if a developed world can afford this technology. The point is will it lead to ultra low cost water reuse worldwide?

    Things things really bring hope and start my day off right!!

  • http://extremegreenvillage.com Bob Henry

    This is a great story. And this is a great triumph.

    The big question is “ballpark” how much does it cost and how much does it handle per year?

    How much does it cost per gallon to recycle the water?

    Can the same thing be done across the board and can it be done as cheaply as using water as usual.

    It really doesn’t matter if a developed world can afford this technology. The point is will it lead to ultra low cost water reuse worldwide?

    Things things really bring hope and start my day off right!!

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