Our production facility is acquiring a revolutionary way to control the bacterial population in the cellar. BlueMorph is a patented UV sanitization system which is going to be a game changer for the wine business.
People have used, and still use, several chemical cycles to ensure that tanks are sanitized and cleaned. Sodium hydroxide (also called caustic soda), a water rinse, an application of citric acid and then a second rinse to neutralize, is a familiar cleaning method among winemakers and cellar workers. But what if one could just turn on a light switch instead?
The power of disinfection using UV light is not new; you may have a system using the same principles under your sink at home. This is the first time that this application has been used for large-scale winery operations. A number of wineries, including Jackson Family Wines, Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Hall Wines have successfully completed testing of this new system.
This UV system can reduce the amount of water used in tank cleaning and sanitation by up to 80%. This is accomplished by replacing a typical caustic/citric rinse cycle with a hot water wash followed by UV sanitation. I worked at Jackson Family Wines, and trust me when I say that large-scale wineries use a lot of water. Reducing water use in tank cleaning by more than 70% (according to one of my Cellar Master friends) is a huge deal for not only the environment, but for the bottom line.
Conserving water is on everybody’s mind after several years of drought in California. It will take several more years with a similar amount of rainfall to that we experienced in early 2017 to totally replenish the aquifers.
UV Sanitation Effectiveness
Caustic soda/citric acid, steam and ozone were all tested against each other. In all cases, the performance of the UV system was comparable or better than the traditional alternative.
The unit includes a waterproof case for electronics and a protective casing with rubber and springs that was designed by the Tom Beard Company, a well-respected and experienced producer of equipment for wineries. These are the same people that designed the nitrogen-dispensing machine used on the bottling line.
In addition to the water savings, it will bring down the cleaning labor requirements by about 60% and electricity by 50%. Factoring in maintenance and the occasional broken bulb, wineries are looking at a 3 ½ year payback. BlueMorph UV is also developing a smaller unit for barrels.
The wine business is being green by going blue.