Water conservation in the home winery

Water conservation. From: gallinaswatershed.org

Water conservation. From: gallinaswatershed.org

If you hear a winery claiming to be ‘green’, just think how much water we’ve used just during pressing grapes for 6.5 gallons of wine and cleaning up after that“, I told my brother as we were cleaning up after pressing my 2011 Santa Clara Valley Fiano.

I like to think that the run off I generate in washing equipment (press, carboys, fermenters, etc.) in my back yard is not a complete waste. A trough carries the water down a gentle slope to the front garden where is waters fig, citrus and roses. I’ve even emptied rinse water from carboys into potted plants. Still, I do notice a rise in the water bill when I am making wine.

Recently, Wines & Vines published this article about water conservation in a winery (back-up PDF version available here). I wanted to see if any of the tips in that article can be adapted to the home winemaking scenario.

1. I’ve already touched on re-purposing rinse water. Even the first rinse containing skins and seeds can be used to feed plants.

2. In the cellar (whatever that is for you), you can use a catch bucket. Since I use my basement as my fermentation area (the temperature is fairly even and low and the area is well ventilated), I have one bucket for everything wet and not intended for bottling: distilled water, 20% ethanol, to sanitizing solution and Clinitest solutions end up in this bucket. This is a relatively small volume, so I guess I am not so racked by pangs of guilt about dumping this stuff down the toilet. The majority of my rinsing takes place outside.

3. Since the cement slab under the patio in my back yard doubles as my crush pad, I only hose it down if I’ve had major spills of wine or must (to prevent stains and not attract insects). Long ago, I invested a goodly sum into a good push broom which works great.

4. I’ve been looking into a greywater/rainwater system – at least for the purposes of watering around the house. This is rather ambitious as well as cost and labor intensive. Going through with such a project requires as much dough as dedication.

5. Another idea: if you have a hose nozzle with multiple settings, you can get just as good a rinse with the “mist” setting than the “shower” or “full” or “jet” setting. This is not to discount the need for a forceful stream of water now and then. When the LA Dept of W & P instituted conservation methods a decade back, they distributed shower heads that emitted a mist instead of a dousing shower. Using the mist setting on your hose will save some water (remember to dump the rinse water into the next dirty vessel or under a plant).

Other ideas and suggestions are welcome.



Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles. http://www.shutupandmakewine.com http://twitter.com/Dr_Arthur_P
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