A distillery transforming wine byproductsOuest-France - Loire-Atlantique - 9 December 2013
Thousands of tons of marc and hectolitres of wine lees are produced in its silos every year. Distillerie Baron, in La Remaudière, is always ready to seize an opportunity to innovate.
Nestled in a five-acre site at the foot of the wind turbines in La Remaudière, for the last ten years, Distillerie Baron, a large-scale concern, has been transforming the wine byproducts of an entire region. 'In the early sixties, my grandfather, Marcel Baron, bought his first still and started distilling in the neighbouring department,', explains his 44-year-old grandson Pascal, now at the helm of the business with his wife.
'Any wine producer with an annual yield of more than 25 hectolitres is obliged to take all the byproducts of their winemaking process to an approved distillery,' continues Pascal Baron. This means that Distillerie Baron, which covers Pays Nantais vineyards, Coteaux d'Ancenis and Fiefs Vendéens, receives between 22 and 35,000 tonnes of grape marc during the grape harvest and an average 20,000 hectolitres of must deposit and wine lees the rest of the year. 'The quantities we receive depend on the yield of each harvest along with successive grubbing-up and planting plans,' Pascal Baron points out.
Steam required to operate the distillation column and generate the heat that powers the dryer is provided by a vast wood boiler. 'For the last three years we've been using around 2,000 tonnes of local recycling wood (1) per year, and no longer have to resort to fossil fuel,' says Pascal Baron.
In addition to producing pure alcohol, its primary function, the distillery also transforms vineyard byproducts. Polyphenol, used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, grape seed oil for human consumption, and biofuel for engines. The remaining green waste is used to fertilise vegetable crops in market gardens throughout the Nantes valley.
Optimal sector valorisation
Mixed, crushed, dissected, dried and compacted, each day the products of local vineyards are transformed into raw materials that are being put to ever better use and sought after by many manufacturers. 'We now deliver dehydrated pulp extracted from grape marc and dried after distillation to livestock feed specialists and factories that produce organic fertilisers. We've been running in this new sector for the last three years, and are gradually going from strength to strength,’ explains Pascal Baron.
Identical results have also been obtained for tartrate of lime, now used as a plaster and cement retarder. 'The famous crystalline clusters that we obtain from the precipitation of wine lees and which are well-known to wine producers and white wine consumers, have just found an original market niche; tartaric acid now a natural raw material that is highly valued by the construction industry.'
A great result for the research and development laboratory behind a string of successful projects, which has its premises at the site of the National Union of Alcohol-Distiller Groups (UNGDA). Its latest idea involves producing green adhesives for the wood industry. 'This high-potential project is presently in the early stages. But, even if a ten-year objective, in the long term it remains a very interesting value-building and development perspective,' concludes Pascal Baron, always on the look-out for a new idea.
(1) Pallets, crates, scrap wood from sawmills and similar.See the original article