Sustainability with the Environment

This is a continuation of the blog “A First of It’s Kind

Sustainability with the Environment

There is no doubt that farms and wineries do as much as they can to be both environmentally and economically sustainable. For our vineyards, we are now 100% naturally-farmed (organic) through all 85 acres. The winery has a solar system that has fed the grid (delivering more to the grid than we use for the year). “Waste” products from the production of wine is reincorporated into the vineyards (stems, seeds, skins, rinse water, etc.).

But no matter what all that any given winery does, there is always something more possible.

One aspect of wineries is the amount of water we use for the production of each gallon of wine. The water use is spread throughout the winery, mostly cleaning tanks and barrels as well as general hygiene (very unromantic aspects of the winery). When it comes to certain jobs, the issue is making sure the equipment is clean and even sterile. Sterilizing equipment generally means running 180 degree water through the system for a period of time. And thus the filtration dilemma.

For years we’ve been using a plate and frame filtration system with a set of filtration pads (ranging from 17-45 pads depending on the wine). In any given vintage, I might filter 25 days within the year, preparing wines for bottling.

The issue is water and waste. When I sterilize my filter frame, I run the 180 degree water through the system for about 30 minutes, after which I run cold water through it to cool filter down. All in all, this uses about 200 gallons of water. If you multiply this by the number of days I filter every year, the amount is significant.

Now add to this equation the number of filter pads we use. Once used, we bag the filter pads soaked in wine (from the filtration) and throw them in the dumpster to be taken away. If I use 25 pads per filtration, and 25 filtrations a year, that’s a reasonable amount of waste from this necessary wine process.

And now my new crossflow filter. My preparation starts with simply hooking up my filtered water and rinsing the crossflow filter for 5 minutes, maybe 40 gallons of water, and I start filtering. My cleanup takes a rinse as well (taking about 120 gallons in all with my cleaning solution), and I’m done. However, I should be cutting down the number of filtrations by two-thirds, potentially saving some 3000 gallons of water or more (we’ll know more after a year of crossflow use).

This doesn’t even take into account that I’m using cold water instead of hot water, thus saving the propane from heating the water to 180 degrees.

But the best is that there are no filter pads to throw into the garbage. There is no solid waste at all!

Although I’m simplifying the impact on the environment by using a crossflow (less energy use, filtering at night instead of the day, duration of use, etc.), the benefit to the environment with no solid waste and less water use is a bonus of the equipment. But alas with most environmentally friendly choices, it’s only possible if a winery can afford the price tag.

The Crossflow Special

To make this happen, Maggie asked me how I planned to pay for the majority of the $50,000 price tag. With the success of our pump sale a couple of years ago, we found out that the greater Madroña family (you all) had an interest in being a part of helping get specific pieces of equipment for the winery. There’s a sense of ownership as well as the thought that with each sip of the special wine, people have made something possible that maybe would not have happened.

I intentionally hold several wines back for rerelease later in their lives knowing that 1): the additional cellaring will only improve the wine, and 2): we have the responsibility of cellaring the wine (since most people don’t hold onto wines once purchased).

The wine of choice for me for this crossflow purchase is our 2009 Signature Collection Zinfandel. A warmer year produced a big, full-bodied Zinfandel with plenty of ripeness and wonderful structure. The purpose of a few more years of age on this wine is toning down the ripe fruit characters (allowing the subtleties of spice and earthiness to come through) while showcasing the suppleness and luscious texture of a great Zin (with cellaring).

To entice you, our greatest tasters, to support this effort, we are offering our employee discount (50%) to all of you on purchases of full cases of this Zin. Normally, at the $26 pricepoint, a case of this Zinfandel (non-aged) is $312. With the Crossflow Special, you’re looking at $156/case (+tax, of course).

Although I didn’t hold onto enough of the 2009 Signature Collection Zinfandel to pay for the entire crossflow filter, we can get most of the way with your help. We started showcasing this special (and tasting the wine) about three weeks ago in the tasting room. With only that exposure, we’ve already sold through half of my inventory. So time is short and we’d love your support.

Thank you for being a part of the Madroña community!

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