Wineries, what are your water management practices for a sustainable future?

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water managementwater management


Wineries, what are your water management practices for a sustainable future?

Running a winery is a highly stressful occupation, especially in today’s age of sustainable practices. Because the country is experiencing a drought, it is vital to have water management practices in place which are sustainable and are not wasteful.

These total water management practices can be difficult to create and implement. But with some preparation and the correct information, your winery will soon be operating on a sustainable level and will be contributing to a positive future for the environment.

Practices for sustainable total water management

If you are interested in creating a system that can recycle, reuse and create value-added byproducts from your winery effluent, there are steps you can follow in order to do so, as listed below.

Collect and analyse the data

To start the process of total water management practices, you will need to collect and analyse data about your winery practices. This includes the amount of water used, where it is used and how it is used. Other data that is important to understand includes soil moisture and water conditions. Using this information, you will be able to make informed decisions about the applications of the water.

Categorise your water streams

Once you have collected and analysed your data, it is important to categorise your water streams into categories, namely three re-use types based on chemical characterisation results:

  • Relatively clean and can be reused with little to no treatment
  • Can be reused after limited treatment
  • Requires full treatment and/or disposal

Once this has been done, you can decide where and how to use this water. It is vital to record the volume of water in each category as well as the level of chemicals.

Try rainwater catchments

A rainwater catchment is a water saving solution that is perfect for wineries. Many wineries with cellars often have larger roofs, which means that rainwater catching is easier and more effective. You can use this water in your vineyard as irrigation water or you can use it to reduce the strain on your well. An important feature of rainwater is that it is pH neutral, so when it is used on your vines they will stay healthier in a more natural way.

Soil monitoring

In order to ascertain which areas of your vineyard need watering at what time of the year, it is vital to perform accurate soil monitoring. Vines will only be watered when needed, saving the amount of water you use on the irrigation of your vines. This is the perfect use for the rainwater or greywater that your winery has been keeping. Monitoring your soil also provides a clear and accurate picture of whether your watering processes are successful or not.

Change the process

During the fermentation process of winemaking, you could try putting the yeast directly into the top of the tank instead of injecting it with a sump, pump and hose process. Sanitising a punch-down tool with ethanol will save a lot more water than cleaning a pup and hose setup. In order to reduce the number of times you have to clean the red must out of your press before pressing white grapes, dedicate a press to white grapes and one to red.

In the cellar

Change from a three-step process (caustic cycle, acid neutralization cycle and then water rinse) to a two-step process (KOH followed by peracetic acid, followed by a water rinse). This one change can add up significantly during the harvest season. One of the easiest changes to implement is to install a high pressure/low flow cleaning device in the cellar. This reduces the flow significantly, which also reduces the amount of water used when cleaning in the facility.

Filtration and bottling changes

Consider the filtration process you are using. Would you be better off using a cross-flow filter, where there are fewer breakdowns and setups, and you are able to filter in one pass? If you want to be even more water and energy conscious, you can consider using a liquid cellulose gum for cold stability rather than the traditional chilling and seeding with potassium bitartrate crystals. Attempting to filter in one pass will increase your total water management strategy’s effectiveness and success.

Final tips

In order to further save water, it is important to equip all water hoses with an automatic shut off valve and timer. You can also minimise the length and diameter of hoses to use less water in the sanitation phase. To save water when washing tanks, save the last rinse water from a tank as the first rinse water for the next tank, and empty dirty water into a sump for reuse in other tanks.


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