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Water recycling in the winery can cut down on total wastewater flow and maximize the value of inputs. But it can also concentrate salts, nutrients and BOD in a smaller volume of water, yielding ‘higher-strength’ wastewater. Reuse options should always be evaluated for their feasibility and potential impact within the context of the specific winery operation.

Reuse in the Winery

Some wastewater streams can be repurposed within the facility multiple times before disposal or end treatment, via automated systems (e.g. Clean-in-Place) as well as manual methods. Wastewater streams with reuse potential include:

  • Tank Cleaning - final rinses

  • Bottling - soak water; rinse water

  • Barrels - cleaning water

  • Equipment Management - cooler flush water; filter backwash; sterilizer water

These streams may be repurposed as:

  • First rinses in wash cycles

  • Filter backflush

  • Caustic dilution

  • Boiler makeup

  • Refrigeration equipment defrost

  • Equipment cleaning

  • Floor and gutter washing

[Adapted from the Winery Process Wastewater Management Handbook by Sustainable Winegrowing British Columbia.]

Reuse in the Vineyard

Irrigation is an excellent method of wastewater reuse that puts both water and nutrients to a beneficial purpose: crop production. Because crops remove nutrients and salts from the wastewater and soil, this method can also be a positive factor in groundwater protection.

Research Spotlight:

The American Journal of Enology and Viticulture published “A California Winery Wastewater Survey: Assessing the Salinity Challenge for Wastewater Reuse” in 2015. This research paper describes recommended conditions for the use of wastewater for irrigation.


Use these guiding questions as you begin to evaluate opportunities for additional water quality actions in the winery.

  • Which reuse category does each wastewater stream fall into [Category 1 = "relatively clean, can be reused without treatment", Category 2 = "Can be reused with limited treatment", Category 3 = "Requires full treatment and/or disposal")?

  • What options are available to capture each wastewater stream?

  • What are the cost implications (including net savings) for each reuse option?

Visit the Resources page for more Key Questions.

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