How Pigging Can Help Drought-Stricken Wineries Conserve Water

More and More Wineries Deploying Product Recovery Systems

With the festive season just around the corner, now may be a good time to stock up on wine while you can. This is because major wine producing countries, including South Africa and Italy are in the grips of a drought and water shortages, which are threatening to diminish wine production.

As such, it comes as no surprise that water conservation is high on the agenda for many wine producers and processors. That’s why many are deploying product recovery (“pigging”) systems into their operations to reduce their water usage and improve their overall efficiencies.pigging benefits wineries

South Africa and Low Wine Yield

One of the largest producers of wine in the world who is facing droughts and depletions in yield is South Africa. South Africa contributes 4% to global wine production and exports 440 million litres of wine per year. But water droughts in the country are drying up the vines, meaning that the harvest next year is expected to be historically small. Experts suggest that wine yield could drop as much as 25% to 50%.

This is due to the lack of rainfall during the past two winter periods which has left the vines across South Africa without the necessary water reserves through summer. In addition, because of the severity of the droughts, this has resulted in level 5 restrictions being implemented. This sees a variety of limits and things such as irrigation and washing of vehicles with public water forbidden.

Despite having an impact on the quantity produced, the two years of relentless droughts haven’t necessarily had an impact on the quality of the crop. In fact, wine producers in South Africa are still witnessing excellent quality wine being produced.

Other Wine Producing Countries Facing Droughts

South Africa is not the only country that is facing volatile weather and droughts. For instance, Spain’s main wine growing area has been badly affected by severe droughts which have left vines more susceptible to damage.

Similarly, Australia has also historically been hit hard by severe weather conditions. In 1995 up until 2009 Australia experienced one of the worst droughts in more than a century which destroyed large parts of Australian wine country.Wineries and water conservation

Because of the drought, reservoir levels declined rapidly, as did agricultural production and industrial water use. What’s more, major cities such as Melbourne and Sydney implemented water conservation programmes to reduce the demand on the country’s limited water resources. Their efforts included building desalination plants, in an attempt to somewhat drought-proof themselves and they also pursued a variety of water recycling projects.

California Droughts

California is another prominent wine-growing region that has been plagued with ongoing droughts in recent years that have hit the region hard. The most recent drought reduced grape yields and left some wineries with a mere fraction of their usual water allocation.

Although grapes can in fact strive for drought season, in the sense that stressed vines make better wine. However, there are limitations on how much stress vines can take. According to experts, vineyards and grapes can still survive even if water usage is slashed to 40%. Unfortunately, many wineries in California were faced with the challenge of having to cut their water usage by 75% – which had negative implications for grape production.

Overcoming Droughts Through Innovation

Due to the threat of droughts, wine producers and processors are continuously looking for new ways to use less water.

Some winemakers are using dry farming techniques, which rely on rainfall alone for their vines. Dry farming predominately relies on moisture in the ground from limited rainfall. Some of the finest wines in the world have been produced from crops that have been dry farmed. That’s because dry-farming typically produces lower yields, which is believed to enhance the grape’s flavour and produce better wine.wine and water conservation

Many winemakers are also using “pigging” to reduce their water consumption. To illustrate how much water a pigging system can save, one of Australia’s leading wineries Orlando Wines, estimate they are saving around 40 megalitres of water per annum. In addition, it’s estimated that they are saving 444,000 litres of wine per year. You can find the case study which details how Pigging improves wine production here.

Saving Water Through Pigging

As well as saving significant amounts of water, pigging technology has a wide variety of additional benefits. For example, it can increase yields, recover valuable product, reduce waste, speed up changeovers, increase efficiency and profits. Pigging also has a positive impact on the environment which is illustrated in one of our recent infographics.

What’s more, pigging systems have a typical payment of less than a year and can be easily added to existing pipework or plants with minimal downtime and disruption to operations. Here’s a case study which illustrates how an HPS solution delivered a wide variety of benefits for a winery.

Find Out More

For more information about reducing water usage, improve yields and increasing efficiency through pigging and product recovery solutions, please contact HPS today.