Recycled Rainwater Boosts Production At Sustainable Winery

March 3, 2017
GE, University of California, Davis and Winesecrets pilot project will use recycled rainwater for wine production.

GE and Winesecrets help Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery recycle rainwater for wine production.

As California's agriculture industry plans for months of extreme rain followed by months of longer drought, the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) and wine industry solutions provider Winesecrets align with GE to pilot a program to use captured rainwater in wine production. Reusing rainwater rather than pulling freshwater from the aquifer, the pilot program can supply the needed wash water in winemaking.

GE’s Water & Process Technologies provided a reverse osmosis (RO) system and a Total Organic Carbon (TOC) analyzer to the winery at UC Davis, using existing technologies with advanced digital capabilities for this new application. The pilot enables the winery at UC Davis to have more control over its source water by not having to rely on the aquifer with its varying water quality and availability.

“The rainwater is cleaner than groundwater sources as it doesn’t contain as much mineral content—that makes filtering the water easier. The rainwater is collected from the roof of the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building and other campus buildings,” says Jill D. Brigham from the Sustainable Wine and Food Processing Center, University of California, Davis. “It then goes through the treatment system so that it can be used to clean the tanks and equipment at the winery. We treat about 7,000 gallons per day of water for use in the winery."

The rainwater capturing system transports the rainwater through downspouts to a holding tank with a capacity of 1,200 gallons. After going through a 50-micron media filter, it is pumped into two 45,000-gallon storage tanks that feed the water treatment system.

Water & Process Technologies’ RO system purifies the rainwater to a potable level and removes contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, viruses, toxins, dust, pollen, bacteria and pollution. The TOC analyzer measures that the potable product water consistently meets the required quality.

This isn’t the first time a California business has made an effort to spare the state’s inconsistent water supply in the name of beverage production. Last year, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company began testing beers made with recycled wastewater.

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