Tips to Reduce Winery Wastewater

how to reduce winery wastewater

Reducing and managing winery wastewater goes beyond complying with regulations or being kind to the environment. It is a business initiative which is linked to efficiency and profit. The more water a winery consumes, and the more wastewater produced, the more it costs to treat the water, both in equipment needed and time. Understanding how a winery uses water and generates wastewater, both during vintage and non-vintage times, is the first step. From there, changes can be implemented to reduce how much wastewater is generated, and to improve the quality of that wastewater.

Benefits of managing winery wastewater

A winery can greatly improve production efficiency and reduce costs by creating and maintaining an efficient operational flow, which includes reducing and managing water usage. Streamlining cleaning processes reduces time and therefore labor and chemical costs. Using less water also means a reduction in water supply costs and wastewater disposal fees.

Properly treated wastewater ensures no harm to the environment, and wineries will comply with local wastewater treatment regulations. Not all the states have regulations as restrictive as the California State Winery Wastewater Regulations, but regulations are expected to become increasingly restrictive at many other wine producing states.

Besides, managing wastewater is also a “green” marketing topic that helps a winery’s relationships and reputation with customers and the local community.

Why try to reduce wastewater loading in your winery?

Reducing water usage without reducing wastewater loading can cause higher organic and inorganic concentrations, which then cost more time and money to treat. So reducing how much wastewater is generated is as important as improving its quality for having an efficient, less-costly operation.

Winery wastewater characteristics vary depending on many factors such as quality of the water source, operations, cleaning methods, type of wine produced, time during the year and many more. Many of these factors can be controlled by the winery in order to improve the quality of the wastewater.

Reducing winery wastewater and total water usage

Two-thirds of all water used in a winery is for cleaning and sanitation, so start here by reviewing standard operating procures and refining then as needed. Then, develop cleaner production practices that reduce solids and contaminants. And always educate your employees accordingly. For further help, check out these ten tips on how to reduce winery wastewater.

1. Pre-Clean

Pre-clean your equipment before using water, so less water is used while cleaning. Use squeegees, brushes or brooms to loosen materials prior to using a hose.  Ideally, high pressure nozzles with an automatic shut off should be used, or determine if steam cleaning is appropriate.

2. Automate Cleaning

A cleaning system that is automated or semi-automated can reduce water and chemical use by up to 50%, and deliver more consistent results. They can also reuse water in the cleaning cycles, which reduces water use and costs.

3. Get the Crush Pad Covered

Keeping the crush pad and reception area in the shade won’t allow the sun to bake the juice and grape skins onto the equipment, meaning it requires less water, time and effort to clean them.

4. Filter to Remove BOD’s

Crushing generates a large amount of solids. Filtering them out from the wastewater stream is the best way to reduce BOD’s in the winery wastewater, before they can accumulate and putrefy. This will save energy and therefore money.

5. Efficient Barrel Washing

Develop and document a standard operating procedure to reduce water during barrel cleaning. Soaking only the end of a barrel, working with multiple barrels consecutively, leaving barrels wrapped until needed, and using the rinse water from one to do the initial cleaning of another are just a few ways to reduce water.

6. Reduce the use of chemicals

Some cleaning solutions can be captured, filtered, and reused, and some don’t require a final rinse, such as Cleanskin and Bevsan.  Determine if ozone can be substituted for the final rinse; it offers higher sanitization quality, time and energy savings, and decreases chemical use. Ozone can be used in barrel washing, tank cleaning, surface and equipment sanitization, and clean-in-place processes.

7. Consider how easy to clean equipment is before buying

Before purchasing new equipment, consider how much time and resources it will take to clean it. Can it include automatic sanitization? Can steam cleaning be substituted for individual sanitation steps?

8. Recycle and reuse

Water can be recycled and reused throughout the operation. Clean-in-place systems can reduce water and chemical use by up to 50%. Likewise, water used in final rinses, bottle soaking and rinsing, cleaning barrels, and flushing and backwashing can be reused. Beyond reusing water, lees, pomace and other solids can be reused in other products; can they be captured and sold, or can the operation develop value-added products to sell?

9. Isolate storm water

Ensure that rainwater stays separate from process wastewater; cover the drain and redirect water so it goes to the land and doesn’t end up in the wastewater treatment system to be cleaned. The less water there is to clean, the lower the cost.

10. Make the process easier for employees

After developing an efficient cleaning process, provide the tools to employees to make their job easier. Organize and/or color code cleaning materials; use a cart with wheels for easier movement. Educate the team, and post the procedures so employees can remember the standard operating procedures. Offer regular refreshers to the team, so everyone stays current on operational procedures.


While reducing the water footprint of a winery is important, it’s crucial not to skip the step of reducing the wastewater volume and loadings. Reducing only total water usage can lead to a higher concentration of organic and inorganic material in the process water, which costs more to treat.

Contact Specialty Treatment Solutions for more tips on how to reduce wastewater in your operation.  The less wastewater created means the less it costs to treat it. Once you have this streamlined, we can help you choose the right wastewater treatment system for the size of your operation and your total water usage. Our systems are designed to reuse water, so it can be used within the operation or for irrigation or fire control.

Contact us to get started.


Sustainable Winegrowing British Columbia. 2018. Winery Process Wastewater Management Handbook: Best Practices and Technologies.

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