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Kudos to Cave Spring for Award-Winning Excellence in Environmental Innovation

Cave Spring Cellars, a recognized leader in sustainable winemaking operations, is the well-deserved recipient of a prestigious 2016 Premier’s Award for excellence in environmental innovation.

Cave Spring received the honour for becoming Canada’s first winery – and the country’s first food and beverage processor – to install the BioGill wastewater management system.

MPP Jim Bradley with Dave Hooper of Cave Spring Cellars

MPP Jim Bradley with Dave Hooper of Cave Spring Cellars

“We put a lot of pride and commitment into producing excellent wine, and we recognize that our customers care about the environment as much as we do, “ said Cave Spring owner Len Pennachetti in a news release. “It simply makes sense to better manage our resources. It saves us money and protects the environment.”

In 30 years since opening in the Village of Jordan, Cave Spring has grown from producing 2,000 cases per year to more than 70,000. Operations Manager Dave Hooper said little attention was paid to water management practices as the business expanded.

“That’s a key part of our sustainable winemaking culture today. We now have a much better understanding on the ‘ins, outs and in-betweens’ of integrated water management, especially when it comes to keeping solids out of our drains,” Hooper said.

The Regional Municipality of Niagara encourages wineries like Cave Spring to implement on-site water management solutions. It greatly reduces odours and the costs of treating high-strength wastewater at their centralized plants, and helps to defer capital investments in municipal water infrastructure.

water-and-wine-logoThis innovation was borne out of a pilot project completed in 2015 and is part of the award-winning Water & Wine initiative BLOOM is delivering in collaboration with the Wine Council of Ontario. The Water & Wine portal provides wineries with practical resources, tools and instructional videos they can use to improve their water use and management practices.bloom-logo

“We know there is a strong desire among Ontario winemakers to be good water stewards,” said Kevin Jones, President and CEO of BLOOM.

“Cave Spring is a role model for all wineries looking to implement practical and affordable water management solutions. I congratulate Cave Spring for its commitment to ‘walking the talk’ for this well-deserved Premier’s Award. ”

Jim Bradley, the Ontario MPP for St. Catharines who presented the Premier’s Award to Dave Hooper, agreed that the Cave Spring results will have an impact across the province.

“Cave Spring Cellars is to be commended for this ground-breaking project. I wish you well as this system serves as a positive example to other food and beverage processing businesses in our province, “Bradley said in a statement.

The annual Premier’s Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence are Ontario’s highest honour for outstanding contributions in innovation to the province’s agri-food sector.

Southbrook Vineyards approach to water management in barrel cleaning

Our last blog post was about how Flat Rock Cellars improved the efficiency of their barrel cleaning process by measuring what they were doing, making improvements and then verifying the results. But what if you want to skip all that and just dive right in to the most efficient process you can?

We spoke with Ann Sperling from Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake about their approach. Sustainability and water management have always been a priority at Southbrook. They produce wine that is certified organic and biodynamic, built the first LEED Gold winery building in Canada, harvest rainwater for use in the vineyard, and utilize an engineered wetland and naturalized landscaping to manage wastewater and stormwater. So it should come as no surprise that the procedures Southbrook uses to maintain their barrels are the most water efficient ones we’ve come across.

The first line of defense against excess water use is to keep barrels filled with wine as often as possible. When wineries store barrels, they typically wash and sanitize them both before and after storage. By refilling barrels within a few days of being emptied, Southbrook eliminates the need for double-washing.

When Southbrook empties a barrel that is to be refilled with the same varietal, the barrel is emptied and allowed to drain. And then…nothing. The barrel is filled without washing. Zero water. While winemakers who do not share Southbrook’s natural and non-interventionist philosophy to winemaking may have trouble giving up that control, Sperling has embraced the complexity it imparts to their vintages and Southbrook’s many awards can attest to the quality wine she produces.

Similarly, when barrels do need to be put into storage, they are drained, but the wine residue is left on the surface of the barrel. The idea being that the low pH and alcohol content of the wine residue, combined with burning a sulfur wick every 6 weeks, provides sufficient protection. When the barrels are taken out of storage they are inspected to determine the amount of washing that is required and whether ozone sanitation is necessary. Between 30 to 50 litres of water is used to clean each barrel coming out of storage.

Southbrook has managed to significantly reduce the amount of water, time, and energy that goes into barrel maintenance by challenging the status quo and embracing a natural approach to wine making that is not just gentler on the wine, but gentler on the environment as well.

We have added Southbrook’s example as a new case study within Water & Wine’s section on Barrel Cleaning. Please visit the module on Reducing Water Consumption and Wastewater Strength for more ideas on how to improve water efficiency in your winery.

Free Water Monitoring Workshops for Wineries

“Running out of water, it’s almost like running out of air….”

BLOOM is hosting free workshops providing wine makers the tools and knowledge they need to improve water management practices.

These workshops will be taking place in the four wine regions of Ontario: Niagara Region, Prince Edward County, Essex Pelee Island Coast, and South Coast. See below for times and dates.

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Interview with Norman Hardie and Tim Kuepfer

Why have Norman Hardie and Broken Stone, two wineries in Prince Edward County, taken an interest in water management?

“If people around you raise their bar, you tend to raise it yourself.” — Norman Hardie

Norman Hardie discussing the value of water monitoring

Norman Hardie discussing the value of water monitoring

Last Thursday, we met up with winery owners Norm Hardie (Norman Hardie Winery normanhardie.com) and Tim Kuepfer (Broken Stone Winery brokenstone.ca/) to discuss what they are doing to monitor their water-use, improve water efficiency, and reduce their supply risks. We gathered at Archive wine bar (archive909.com), which Norm enthusiastically refers to as the “best wine bar in Toronto,” to film the interviews.

Both Norm Hardie and Broken Stone are located in Prince Edward County, a budding wine region favoured for its climate and unique soil composition. The trade-off: despite being at such a close proximity to Lake Ontario, groundwater supplies are constrained in the region. This is one of the primary drivers behind both Norm and Tim’s interest in water. They recognize that water is an essential part of their business and that they require a reliable supply in order to operate their wineries and plan for growth. More than this, they view water as a valuable shared resource and take their role as users and stewards of that resource seriously.

This summer, we conducted demonstrations at each of their wineries as part of web-based modules we are developing to improve water and wastewater management at Ontario wineries. At Norman Hardie,with the help of Aureus Solutions, we established a system to practically monitor water usage, and at Broken Stone, with the help of Quinte Conservation, we explored how to measure well levels. The aim of the filmed demonstrations was to produce a step-by-step method that could be followed by any winery.

Archive wine bar, located on Dundas just east of Bellwoods park

Archive wine bar, located on Dundas just east of Bellwoods park

“We don’t want to have an unexpected shortage. It jeopardizes the whole business, really.” — Tim Kuepfer

During our discussions at Archive, Norm emphasized the impact that installing water meters has already had on his operations. He noted that their presence alone helped make water more “visible,” and reduced consumption before any data was even gathered. He figures that during the recent harvest they used at least 10% less water because the physical meters acted as a visual reminder not to waste water. Tim elaborated on his interest in monitoring well levels in order to be better prepared for droughts, and to make sure that his use of water wasn’t going to negatively affect his neighbours.

The results of these interviews will be integrated into the Well Management and Water Monitoring Modules that we are currently developing to help wineries improve their water management practices. Other modules will include Reducing Water Consumption and Wastewater Strength and On-site Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems.

Tim Kuepfer of Broken Stone Winery speaking on well management

Tim Kuepfer of Broken Stone Winery speaking on well management