In the wine world, he is known for his famous book “winemaking practices”. His name isRoger Boulton and he is professor at the Davis University (California). Boulton is devoted to research on sustainability in winemaking processes and today, he is in charge of the world’ first sustainable winery, a pilot model created by the U.C. Davis.
Invited by Coviar, INTA and INV to be lecturer in the 2011 Argentine Symposium of Viticulture and Winemaking (SAVE), held at “Bodega Centenario” in Mendoza (Argentina) during three days, Boulton was one of the main attraction of the event. His talk was focused on the “own measure” that every wine region and companyshould have in order to know whether or not they are sustainable. Likewise, he stressed practices to conserve water and energy, “capturing” carbon and he explained how the University’s pilot winery works, something that, for some people present, sounds like science fiction.
Water: a crucial asset for the business
“Nowadays, water is the most important commodity, because it is limited”, highlighted Boulton “Thus in the future, we will have to use it more than once in order that our business can be viable.”
He continued: “Today, practically in all companies water is used only once, or it is used a second time at most in other application. “In order to have a water footprint indicating that we are sustainable (this footprint or measure will depend on each project), I recommend touse water twice o more in the same application.”
He exemplified that in a winery, the way of measuring the water footprint will be given mainly by the surface to be washed, tanks, barrels and equipment. For that reason, to reduce the use of water, firstly it is necessary to change some winemaking practices. “The transferring of wine requires the use of water each time it is carried out to wash the tank. For that reason, while less vat capacity the winery has more water it will use.”This is the first concept dispelling the idea that small wineries use less water than the big ones.
“The equipment we use determines the amount of water per liter of wine we use,” then he added. “We should reduce the number of racking, or consider some methods to capture water, filter and re-use it many times.”
“By means of certain equipment and chemicals allowing the re-use of water, we only add 10% of new water to the cycle”, explained Boulton, “this way, in 10 cycles we would use only 1/5 of water we normally would have used.”
Therefore, he mentioned alternative practices with new equipments and chemicals, which are being tested, such as the flotation cell, or the columns for protein absorption, -material similar to the bentonite that can be used hundreds of times- by means of which wine, once cooled, goes through the place where proteins rest and returns to the top of the tank. “This way, we handle all the volume together, without racking,” he explained.
When he show the model with which the sustainable winery works in Davis, California, Boulton explained that all the rainwater that falls on the roofs (solar panels) and in the courtyard is recovered. Then, water is filtered, cleaned and put into tanks. Then, this water is used for the irrigation of gardens and for bathrooms.