Stems, Skins & Seeds: Trash or Treasure?

    The harvest season is upon us. Before long, grapes will be hauled  from vineyards to crushing pads, where the process that transforms fruit into wine will begin.

      And once all of the grapes have been brought in, wineries across the country will be left with tons and tons of crushed stems, skins and grape seeds for which they have no use. In other words, at most wineries, those stems, skins and seeds are garbage.

      What’s that old saying? One person’s trash is another persons treasure…

      In some grape-growing locales, a few industrious folks will get up early in the morning to beat the arrival of the garbage trucks and secure that post-crush scrap heap for their own use.

     And what use is that?

     A better question would be: What uses are those?

      For instance, grape seeds can be transformed into cooking oils. Each variety lends its own nuances, ranging from light-bodied to full-bodied, and with an array of aroma and flavor components.

      As with olive oil, such oils can be used for cooking, in sauces and even in dips.

      Interestingly, once the seeds have been used in making oils, they still have some usefulness. The ground-up seed meal, which is known as presscake, can be dried and ground some more to make flour. Chardonnay bread, anyone?

      A company in Posser, Washington, uses grape stems and seeds to make stove pellet fuel. And grape skins can be used to make paper and ink. All told, the company makes some 40 products out of, essentially, the “waste” materials from wineries.

      It’s a win-win situation. Consumers get useful products out of materials that otherwise would have been doomed to landfills, and winery owners don’t have to pay to have those materials hauled away.


Posted in Wine Buzz
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