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27/10/2014

Technology needn’t be high-tech when it comes to saving money in the winery

By Sonya Logan

Twitter: @SonLogan

No-one leaps in the air with joy upon opening their latest energy bill to discover their costs have gone up yet again. However, if a silver lining can be found in such hikes, it’s that they usually force companies to take a long, hard look at where they might be able to reduce their energy use.

That’s certainly been the knock-on effect at Domaine Chandon, in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, according to operational winemaker Adam Keath.

The 5000-tonne capacity winery – which almost exclusively makes sparkling wine, all produced using méthode traditionnelle – is situated approximately halfway between the townships of Coldstream and Healesville and is equipped to crush grapes and warehouse finished wine and everything in between along the production chain. And thanks to the recent introduction of some reasonably simple yet effective technology advances, every bottle it produces is now done so using 23% less energy.

“About three years ago, we decided to subject the winery to an audit to find out where we might be able to reduce our energy consumption,” Keath recalls. “We employed a local engineering company ISECO to do it, and they highlighted a few areas where we could save some energy. So, we’ve been slowly working our way through implementing those ever since. “Frankly, our initial drive for reducing our energy was to benefit the environment. But, the economic benefits have started to emerge now, which has been quite nice, and makes the decision to continue implementing more energy-saving solutions somewhat easier,” Keath says.

The changes in technology that have brought about the biggest energy savings at Domaine Chandon have been the replacement of its air compressors with new variable speed drive units from Broadbent, which alone has resulted in a 35–40% saving in energy used to produce compressed air; switching from using a centrifuge to flotation for clarifying wines; and recovering heat from its refrigeration unit to sterilise grape bins and heat water for use throughout the site.

Domaine Chandon’s 20,000L/hour Juclas flotation unit was used for the first time in vintage 2014 and already the winery is seeing the benefits, and not just in reductions in energy bills.

“The cost saving in switching to flotation has been quite significant,” Keath says. “It’s not only more energy efficient, but it saves having to chill juice down to 5°C, let it settle for 24–48 hours, rack it off then warm it up back up again to ferment; we can go straight to ferment from clarification without chilling or warming. Not only is this achieving a quicker throughput, but we’re also seeing better retention of fruit characters.”

The full article appears in the September-October 2014 issue of the Wine & Viticulture Journal. To ensure your copy, visit www.winebiz.com.au/wvj/subscribe/

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