A rambunctious early harvest has started here in wine country. The drought conditions have created another earlier than usual picking time as tons of wine grapes start the process of becoming wine. However, with all those grapes being crushed into juice, what happens with the rest of the parts of the grapes, often called pomace? Grape waste not.
When I first learned about the processes of making wine, I wondered what was done with all those stems, skins, seeds and sediment. I learned then that some vineyards discarded these solids without any reuse and made into piles to be trucked away to a dump.
I talked with some winemaker friends of mine in the business and found out that more and more are using the waste for an assortment of utilizations. In this day and age of businesses trying to be more environmentally sound, these developments and practices are becoming more rewarding than just making an effort. Troublesome pomace piles are becoming a rare site.
Piles of pomace for good
Now, understand that grapeseed oil has been around since ancient times. Still, the process of taking grape seeds and making oils out of them, had not been widely done until recently. Pomace is the solids or pulp of what is left after the juice is extracted from the grape. Ask those in the know and they will tell you that the pomace of grapes has more of the beneficial health benefits than the juice. These by-products include flour, oils and many other goods. Animal feed is also being produced from grape waste.
Some vineyards are creating piles of compost from their pomace and then sell to farms or keep and better their own vineyard amelioration.
The by-product can be made into food preservatives and in fact is used to spray on raisins as a natural preservative while helping to retain or even improve their flavor. Pomace is rich in antioxidants, iron, fiber, protein, vitamin E and anti-bacterial properties, so with a high-smoke rate, when combined as an cooking oil, offers a wonderfully innovative and unique cooking spray, ideal for baking, grilling, sauteing or stir-fries.
Another use that has budding growth in popularity is grape waste as a biofuel. A few years ago, UC Davis started a research project on taking pomace, prunings and other vineyard winery waste to create bioenergy. Considering many vineyards discard their pomace at a cost, making biofuel for the wineries seems a economically feasible and sensible thing to do. With farms trying to be more sustainable, this is a logical step towards those goals.
Reuse of any product requires extra cost, but as more ideas are pushed into the mainstream of business, the making of grape waste as a viable option is possible. Combining the nutritive advantages with bioenergy, it appears the useful compounds of pomace’s future look great. With new options popping up all the time, disposing of this grape waste may not be a problem anymore, but an actual benefit.
Additional sources: The Encyclopedia of Seeds, UC Davis
Daryle W. Hier
These coat/hat racks are selling like hotcakes