Sonoma Wine Company Adopts Pigging to Conserve Water & Reduce Energy Use

December 26, 2019

This is a pig. It’s “Pipeline Inspection Gauge”. That’s the acronym for it. Pigs come in many different sizes. Here what we’ve got is a synthetic sponge ball. It’s very squishy, which is good. It allows it to get into a bunch of different sizes of pipes and through elbows or other bends in transfer lines. Now we have an older facility here that’s seen several different phases of growths. Correspondingly, we’re going to have different size hoses, different size transfer lines and different configurations. Sonoma Wine Company was formed in 2003. We’re a custom crush to bottle services provider, and we’re about 5 million cases now. We have always been focused on energy and water efficiency as an opportunity to expand the business and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and have worked with PG&E as a partner to accomplish those goals. Keep in mind all your goals before you get started. Are you trying to save water? Are your trying to improve quality? Are you trying to reduce dilution? Or just to have a higher efficiency. Probably the best thing you’re going to want to do is to really get a good handle on your water usage for several months before you adopt your pigs. You’re going to need water meters. Sometimes PG&E can be very helpful in getting you started along the path towards using good measuring devices for your winery. Just some of our typical runs can be 300-500 gallons of water just to push the wine and then you have to add into that water for cleaning and sanitization and then water to rinse out those lines completely. So a long distance run could easily consume up to a thousand gallons of water here, which is an enormous amount of water. What we’ve noticed is about a 10 to 15% drop in water use on a monthly basis across all our cellar practices. That’s significant. By reducing water use in your ponds and elsewhere you have the opportunity to bottle more wine under your current permits. Biggest concern with a pig is safety. You’re moving around solid objects with pressurized gas. So what you need to do is maintain a system that’s easy to use and safe for your workers. You have to maintain some pretty good maintenance on your equipment before trying this. Engage the employees in the cellar and the production line to come up with strategies for reducing water use and pigging is a great example of that. That came from the bottom up. It did not come from the top down. The guys found it easy to use. It’s quicker to actually pig than it is to push with water by several minutes for any operation. One of the easiest things to do is to either go find a winery and there is a number of them around here in the North Bay or in Sonoma or Napa counties who do use pigs. And I’m sure they are always happy, I mean we are always happy, to have visitors come by, of course, if you call us.

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