Our New Energy-Efficient Winemaking Facility
Our new facility was designed from the ground-up to ensure that our winery was a model of efficiency and "green" business practices. Improvements include:
- Temperature control: Girard's winery conditions are created by the help of its modern cooling system, as well as a little help from mother nature. Primary cooling is handled by a fully automated, night-air cooling system, which takes efficient advantage of the Carneros appellation and the modern buildings extensive insulation. If conditioned air is needed, heat exchangers, similar to a car radiator, use cold glycol and pull the warmer air over the chilled coils. The advantage to a system such as this is that whenever the winery uses a piece of equipment to cool, heat must be dissipated, and Girard leaves the heat outside. The chiller system is overbuilt, so it cycles on less frequently and can chill 25,000 gallons of Chardonnay to 28 degrees for cold stability.
- CO2 removal: An automated, louvered ceiling allows cool, fresh air to be pulled down to floor level, where fans exchange the volume of the facility every 10 minutes. Since CO2 is heavier than air, monitors linked to the system keep the team safe during fermentation time.
- Nitrogen generator: Girard makes its own nitrogen, eliminating the need for rental of tanks and gas-guzzling distribution.
- CO2 recycling: Lines used to transport nitrogen to tanks directly from Girard's nitrogen machine can also be used to recycle CO2. .If one tank is producing CO2, the gas can be redistributed to other tanks, allowing elongated maceration time on the skins.
- Nitrogen application timer: Beginning in 2009, a newly installed timer and newly retrofitted tank lids will allow winemakers to apply specified levels of nitrogen to tanks any day of the week. Not only does this positive displacement system protect the wine, it allows the crew to sleep in on the weekends.
- Water treatment and usage: Girard is part of the Wine Country Industrial Park, which is outfitted with its own water treatment plant on-site. The building was designed so that waste water leaves the building nearly as clean as when it arrived. A single collection sump allows all waste water to be monitored to constantly improve efficiencies. Improved efficiencies include the technique of using final rinse water from a clean tank to begin the sanitization of a dirty tank.
- Propane gas: Water and glycol are heated using this clean-burning gas. The independent systems were built and powered from a custom-designed, vertical propane tank outside the entrance.
- 20-ton press: This state-of-the-art piece of equipment allows whole cluster chardonnay to be pressed with the highest quality and efficiency. The gentile membrane press not only performs wonders on the juice, but its large size allows for less press cycles, which means less cleaning, chemicals, water and time.
- Mobile fermenters: Custom four-ton, open-top fermenters were built to be mobile and stackable in order to free up valuable floor space after harvest.
- “Stacked” fermenters: Two independent tanks share one footprint by being stacked in the same skin. Though the tanks are mounted on top of one another, independent temperature controls allow concurrent use during fermentation, allowing maximum use of space. A custom, mobile cat-walk with a fixed must shoot allows skins to be “dug out” while maintaining crew safety and wine quality.
- Compressed air system: Girard's 30-horsepower compressor and 1,040-gallon holding tank minimize compressor cycle time to keep energy use minimal.
- Computer-controlled barrel washer: A fully automated and self-timed barrel washer with high-pressure, low-flow heads, minimizes water use. Working in unison with an ozone generator, optimal cleanliness can be found in the barrels.
- Customized barrel rooms: Four separate barrel rooms were created inside the warehouse (one for Chardonnay primary fermentation, one for Chardonnay malolactic and lees stirring and two for red wines), to allow for optimum temperature-control and labor efficiency. Custom ladders allow normal barrel practices, such as topping, to be done in place saving both time and forklift energy.
- Mobile sorting table: Girard maintains its traditional artisan style of winemaking by hand-sorting all fruit. A crew of six can process about four tons of fruit per hour. The vibrating tables, destemmer and must pumps are mobile to take advantage of multiple processing areas in the fermentation room, and can be put away when not in use.
- Mobile bottling line: The bottling equipment housed in a goose-neck trailer can be pulled inside of the building to bottle independent of weather conditions, but once again, makes free that valuable interior space when not in use.
- Reduced waste: Girard needs only a residential-sized garbage can for a 20-employee winery due to its various efficiencies - lees are even rescued through a third-party company--all of which translates into minimum waste for a 50,000-case winery.
The energy savings at this warehouse winery keeps operating costs down. What's good for the business is good for the environment. One could even argue that cost savings are past along to the consumer when there isn't a hefty mortgage for a showcase winery on the books.