In California, no resource is more important than water, which is why water management has been a top priority in the wine community for years. For the award-winning Napa winery, Shadybrook Estates, water saving is even more imperative because its facility operates as a ‘hold and haul’ production facility, meaning that all their wastewater needs to be collected and then trucked to a treatment plant in the East Bay.
“We’ve got water savings on our radar for a couple of reasons, first and foremost for planet Earth; we try to use as little as possible and be as sustainable as possible, but the less we use and haul away is also beneficial for our bottom line,” says Rudy Zuidema, Winemaker at Shadybrook Estate.
One of Shadybrook’s largest water savings come from their sanitation practices. “We have some pretty unique devices that create a foam out of our sanitation chemicals, so we’re not using hundreds of gallons of water to mix up large batches of chemicals to clean out tanks,” says Zuidema.
The foam uses a very small amount of chemicals to cover the inside and outside of the tanks like a shaving cream. The foam lingers on the equipment, it sterilizes it, and then only needs a quick little rinse off afterward using only a minimal amount of water.
The foam cleaning is facilitated by the unique bright annealed (BA) finished stainless steel interior of the Albrigi tanks. It is superior to the more common 2B stainless steel finish and has a significantly lower roughness range.
“The stainless steel is so finely polished that there are virtually no little fissures where tartrates and other solid particles can lie, everything just flies off the tank, it’s such a perfect surface,” says Michael Andrews, Associate Winemaker at Shadybrook.
“When you have a tank with a rougher surface, you need stronger chemicals that would not be facilitated by the foam, so you’d have to mix that up in a minimum of fifty gallons of water,” explains Andrews. “The chemicals would have to be dissolved in hot water. Then you’d have to circulate that chemical through the tanks for twenty minutes. Then you’d have to rinse that tank, and then you’d have to neutralize that chemical with citric acid, again circulating it for another ten to twenty minutes using another fifty gallons of water for the neutralizing chemical, and all the water and chemical would end up going down the drain into the septic system.”
In addition to the immense water savings come time savings in getting tanks ready quickly, which can be crucial with large harvests like this year. Shadybrooks vineyard yields have been exceptionally high, and temperatures in the 70s and low 80s and cool nights have setup true maturity and ultimate ripeness, but with a 20% larger than normal harvest the winery has been extraordinarily busy.
Andrews appreciates the time savings that efficient sanitation practices affords him. “It’s a significant difference. It would take roughly two to two and a half hours to process a regular tank to sanitary. I can have the Albrigi tanks in this winery cleaned sanitized and ready to go in less than twenty minutes,” he says.
All the equipment in the winery was supplied by ColloPack, who also do all the service and maintenance on the equipment. “Their techs have been fantastic, their service has been very very good. It’s all state-of-the-art equipment and keeping it up and maintaining it is very very important to us,” says Andrews.
Shadybrook boasts 18 Albrigi tanks ranging in size from 2 ton fermentors up to 12 ton fermenters. ColloPack also supplied them two different styles of wine presses, a tank press and a basket press made by Diemme.
“They are very different, and both very efficient,” says Andrews,” but the basket press is so simple to use and is such a great twist on old world and old school winemaking where it is just direct pressure without any tumbling, without any flipping up the material, but just a long slow gentle increase of pressure, and the quality of wine that comes out of this press is absolutely fantastic. The yield is slightly less than from the tank press, but the quality is absolutely fantastic.”
In addition to Albrigi tanks and Diemme presses, ColloPack Solutions’ comprehensive processing and packaging equipment product lines offer top quality state-of-the-art equipment for virtually every major step in the winemaking processes.