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BEST Winery Tool Helps Reduce Energy and Water Costs

Image of grape vines in the field

Figure 1. Wineries have begun to use treated wastewater to irrigate vineyards.

California wineries now have an easy-to-use, computer-based tool and handbook to help them reduce energy and water costs, thanks to researchers in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and to Fetzer Vineyards, with whom the lab worked to develop the tool.

"BEST (Benchmarking and Energy and Water Savings Tool) Winery" compares the performance of a target winery to that of a similar reference winery. The reference winery is the most efficient winery possible, using state-of-the-art commercially available energy- and water-efficient technologies.

After evaluating how the target winery compares to the reference winery, the user can view the tool's inventory of available efficient practices and technologies and select those that will save money, energy, and water at the target winery. BEST Winery is available as an Excel spreadsheet that can be run on any PC operating Windows 2000® or later.

The Public Interest Energy Research Program of the California Energy Commission supported development of the tool, which is geared toward small-to-medium-scale wineries. The tool is available for free to all California wineries.

Why produce a tool targeted to wineries? The wine-making business is a significant one in the state. "California has 1,100 wineries that produce more than 500 million gallons per year, contributing about $33 billion to the California economy," says Christina Galitsky, EETD researcher and one of the report's authors. In 2000, California produced 565 million gallons, representing almost 92 percent of all the wine produced in the U.S.

"A lot of the electricity used in winemaking goes to refrigeration for cooling and cold storage," Galitsky points out. "The rest is mainly compressed air, hot water or electricity for pumping, and the bottling line motors. Cleaning barrels and equipment requires hot water, and so does heating red wine ferments and yeast generator tanks." And, as with other commercial facilities, enclosed areas for storage and processing require lighting, and many such areas are electrically cooled.

Wine barrels in an aging rack
Wine barrels loaded onto conveyor belt
Wine making materials

Figure 2. Winemaking is an energy- and water-intensive industry.

Wineries are also water-intensive enterprises. Their major water use areas are in the fermentation tanks, barrel washing, barrel soaking, bottling line, cellars, and crush pad. Many wineries have begun to use treated wastewater to irrigate vineyards or for landscaping or for frost and fire protection or dust abatement.

"Energy and water costs have increased rapidly for wineries located in California," Galitsky says, "and this has made energy- and water-efficiency improvement an essential part of the business. Our experience is that more than any other industry, winemakers have started to implement sustainable practices in viniculture and in their wineries." In the benchmarking process, either the energy or water performance of an individual plant is compared to that of a plant that represents "standard" or "optimal" performance, or the energy or water usage figures for a number of plants are compared to each other.

Benchmarking in the BEST Winery tool compares an individual winery to a similar hypothetical optimal winery using energy intensity (energy use per unit of output) as the unit of measurement. The BEST Winery tool applies to a wide range of facilities and compensates for differences in production.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Company supported three free BEST Winery tool training sessions in May at the Fetzer Winery in Hopland, the Sonoma Valley Inn in Sonoma, and the Villa Toscana Winery in Paso Robles, California. At the sessions, PG&E provided information on its financial support programs for improving energy efficiency in the state's wineries.

The handbook is titled BEST Winery Guidebook: Benchmarking and Energy and Water Savings Tool for the Wine Industry, and the authors are Christina Galitsky, Ernst Worrell, and Anthony Radspieler of Berkeley Lab, and Patrick Healy and Susanne Zechiel of Fetzer Vineyards.

— Allan Chen

For more information, contact:

  • Christina Galitsky
  • (510) 486-5137; Fax (510) 486-6996
  • Lynn Price
  • (510) 486-6519; Fax (510) 486-6996

This research was funded by the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research Program.

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