Sustainable wine production is becoming more and more important for many wine producers and consumers alike. Waste water management plays a significant role here. For the vintner, conscious handling of water resources means considerable saving potential.
The EU-supported SUSTAVINO project looks at how to manage waste water more efficiently in wine production and is also developing a quality seal to label sustainably produced wine, according to ttz Bremerhaven in Germany, the institute which is coordinating the project.
Some European vineyards are so small that environmental legislation does not apply. In such cases, the waste water generated in wine production is often fed untreated into rivers. Solid residue and organic compounds contained in the waste water can cause significant environmental harm.
The is where the 38-month EU-sponsored SUSTAVINO project, which deals with integrated and sustainable wine production in Europe, plays a role. In the course of the project, ttz Bremerhaven developed a strategy to improve the sustainability of vineyards through waste reduction, decreased water consumption, waste water treatment and re-use, as well as waste treatment and valorisation.
Waste water treatment
Although vineyards in Germany are to a large extent connected to municipal sewage plants, these plants regularly face difficulties at harvest time in regions with intensive viticulture. The additional costs are generally passed on to the vintners. By building a membrane reactor, ttz Bremerhaven was able to treat the waste water and reduce the organic residual waste by over 95 per cent. Experts estimate that a medium-sized vineyard (2500 hl) can save about 1200 Euro per year by operating such a plant. Thanks to relatively low investment and operating costs, installing such a plant pays off after a short time, above all if it is used by several vineyards.
At a Hungarian vineyard, ttz Bremerhaven introduced a balanced waste management system: Sending the marc and yeast-clouded waste to a distillery for the production of industrial alcohol offset the additional costs incurred from using external composting facilities.
In Germany, it requires around 1.7 litres of water to produce 1 litre of wine; this is often considerably higher elsewhere. The SUSTAVINO project had to deal with the challenge of how to reduce water consumption without sacrificing the quality of wine. One such area that it focused on was reducing the water footprint of the bottling process.
Although the SUSTAVINO project is drawing to a close in March 2012, a quality seal is being developed to label sustainably produced wine. So in the future, keep your eyes open for the EQSW or Environmental Quality Strategy for Sustainable Wine production seal when purchasing a European-produced bottle of wine.