Energy Efficient Winemaking
California is America’s top wine producing state, making 90 percent of all wine in the country. But did you know, with the help of the California Energy Commission, the wine industry has made significant strides in energy efficiency?
Part of winemaking involves removing tartrates, tiny crystals that form when tartaric acid and potassium bind together and create sediment in a wine bottle. To remove tartrates, producers have traditionally used an energy-intensive process called cold stabilization.
|The Selective Tartrate Remove System (STAR)|
Electrodialysis, however, can also remove the crystals and it uses a lot less energy. Winesecrets, a Sebastopol company, recognized this process and imported it from Europe. Winesecrets secured a $300,000 grant from the Energy Commission to demonstrate the process and document the costs and benefits. The process is called Selective Tartrate Removal System (STARS). Winesecrets showed winemakers STARS would more than pay for itself by saving wineries energy, water, and other business expenses, all while preserving wine quality.
In the decade since the Energy Commission funded the demonstration, many large wineries use the service, including 60 wineries in California. It’s estimated that more than 5 million gallons of wine is processed annually using STARS in California, saving electricity, natural gas and water.
Winesecrets co-founder Domingo Rodriguez said Energy Commission (CEC) funding was critical to success: “We came out of nothing with support from CEC and have rolled out in a major development with utility companies across North America.” CEC money was needed, Rodriguez said because, “private funds were not enough to fund prolonged start-up of business to sell electrodialysis. Without the matching grant we would not have been able to establish the business.”
To learn more about Energy Commission’s role in bringing energy efficiency to life, visit our research and development page.