Mike Dunne recently wrote an article in the Sacbee about the staggering amount of water the wine industry needs to make wine, and how pioneering growers and wineries are taking major steps to reduce their consumption. Industry experts Dunne interviewed concluded that it typically takes 5.6 gallons to grow enough grapes for a single four-ounce pour of California wine (!), and that the winery will need another 2-6 gallons (most for cleaning) to actually vinify a gallon of wine. Hardly a model of sustainability... so as the drought drags on, more and more people in the industry are getting serious about reducing those numbers.
Earlier this month, I was invited to the headquarters of Free Flow Wines for the first annual Keggy Awards
|Photo credit: Bob McClenahan. Used with permission.|
Once installed and tapped at a restaurant or bar, the kegs also preserve the wine in perfect condition for weeks using a proprietary blend of inert gases -- reducing the restaurant's spoilage losses from oxidation, speeding up service, and lowering the garbage bill for hauling off the empty bottles. Free Flow rounds up the empty kegs and sends them to headquarters for a thorough cleaning, before filling them up with another 26 bottles' worth of wine from one of Free Flow's premium wine clients -- which include Au Bon Climat, Breggo, Cliff Lede, Copain, Iron Horse Vineyards, J Vineyards, King Estate, Matthiasson, Qupé, Round Pond, Tablas Creek, and dozens of other brands, large and small.
|Free Flow's south Napa production facility, home of The Hoff. |
99.375% of the water used here is recaptured, cleaned, and reused.
Photo credit: Bob McClenahan. Used with permission.
This is amazing! And exactly the kind of thing that needs to catch on. Less waste, lower transport costs, and lower consumption of resources at every level. Hopefully we will see more and more of this ingenuity in the future, because a future without wine is no future at all.