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Sourcing pomace


J'ESP

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There are numerous small and medium sized wineries within a 1/2 hour drive from our planned location and the core of our business model requires access to their waste products. Obviously there's a huge hole in the plan until deals are made with the wineries to guarantee the cost & availability of their pomace.

I have industry contacts so getting introductions to winery owners isn't a problem. Problem is, I have no clue what the pomace is worth. Currently, most or all of it goes to compost. There's value there but running it through a still doesn't take that away... it's still going to the compost heap.

Should I be working out deals that pay the wineries a percentage (based on how much usable alcohol is extracted from their pomace) once the product is sold? I can't justify paying cash upfront for a waste product that will take a lot of time and money to process & sell.

Any experiences or ideas?

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There are numerous small and medium sized wineries within a 1/2 hour drive from our planned location and the core of our business model requires access to their waste products. Obviously there's a huge hole in the plan until deals are made with the wineries to guarantee the cost & availability of their pomace.

I have industry contacts so getting introductions to winery owners isn't a problem. Problem is, I have no clue what the pomace is worth. Currently, most or all of it goes to compost. There's value there but running it through a still doesn't take that away... it's still going to the compost heap.

Should I be working out deals that pay the wineries a percentage (based on how much usable alcohol is extracted from their pomace) once the product is sold? I can't justify paying cash upfront for a waste product that will take a lot of time and money to process & sell.

Any experiences or ideas?

The arrangement i have with the wineries i work with here in Napa is they give me a call on the day of their pressing, and i arrive with my own macro bins, or have arranged to have them onsite before then, and they just empty the press into my bins, i come pick them up and once im done distilling, i can either take them back to the wineries, or i take the used pommace to the local green recycle place nearby... costs like $40 to get rid of 3 tons.

The short easy answer is.. no you shouldnt have to pay.. but if for some reason you do have to.. make sure they agree to take the spent pommace back from you at least, so you dont have to pay for disposal.

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main thing is.. if you dont get the pommace on the day its pressed, see if you can convince them to put some CO2 over it and wrap it in plastic.. that will preserved the skins for a little bit longer. every day that goes by, you will lose alcohol from the skins decreasing your potential yields.

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That's encouraging. I was afraid offering free "waste disposal service" would offend & I'd be SOL.

How would you respond to "what's in it for me?" type questions?

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That's encouraging. I was afraid offering free "waste disposal service" would offend & I'd be SOL.

How would you respond to "what's in it for me?" type questions?

Everyone will tell you the first rule of sales is "always be closing." There isn't universal agreement on the second rule, but to me it's "know your customer."

So it depends on who you're talking to. An artisan winemaker might like to participate, might like you to agree to publicize their winery as the source of your pommace. For someone else it's just cost saving, if they're paying for disposal, you can reduce that cost by the amount you're hauling away. If they're already using all of their pommace for compost, there may not be a case to be made. The key is to find out what the prospective source is doing with their pommace now and tailor your offer to their situation.

The other thing is to make it hassle-free for the source or sources. I'm thinking of the whiskey distilleries offering their spent mash as free feed to farmers who will just come and get it. Sadly, for a number of reasons on both sides, that arrangement no longer works for most distilleries and their farmer/neighbors.

But forget about money. You'll never be able to pay them enough to put up with the hassles. The key is to find someone convenient to you, with a by-product that suits your purposes, who will agree because they just like the idea of it, and will keep doing it because you are so together about the whole operation that it becomes effortless for them.

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The wineries in my area are a pretty close-knit group. They share equipment & manpower to allow them to compete with the big boys. My idea is to get an invite to speak at one of their Association meetings. With 3-4 different schemes tailored to please anyone, I could get them all at once just for having the balls to do it.

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I must admit, from all I read in this forum the one I like most is the guy that said "what's in it for me". The very worst thing that you would want to use to make pomace brandy is moldy grapes. Grape skins will go moldy is you do not take precautions. I don't even like to use micro bins because of that. to prevent grape skins from getting moldy you need to store them properly. I like to store them in heavy duty plastic bags, we put about 75 lb of grape skins in it and when possible splarge with Co2. That removes most of the oxgyn, then we tie the bags very tightly. I can promise you that as long that there is no air, you can keep them until the following april with no problems. Of course, this is a lot of work and who ever does it has to be compinsated especially if we are dealing with 4 or 5 hundred tons of material. How are you compinsated varies from person to person. We also own a winery so we have plenty of grape skins of our own. But since we want to make more pomace brandy, we depend of other people for additinal grape skins. Of course the size of the still that you are using for the strip run is very important.A good rule of thumb is that by using 150 lb of grape skins and enough water to make it look like the way it did when the grapes were crushed and then it just matter of fireing up the still and 4 hours later you have approx. 15 to 20 gallons of strip run at 50% alcohol including head and tails. What you do after that is up to you. Good luck

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I've worked in meat, beverage and bakery factories. They all gave their waste freely & gratefully. Using their own bins and/or paying for pickup. Shouldn't be a problem with the wineries either.

As for sanitation, heavy duty liners for the totes and CO2 flushing is probably a good idea. Alcohol will be added as well as water in the stripping still. Probably not a bad idea to put a layer of alcohol on the pomace ASAP.

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Alcohol will be added as well as water in the stripping still. Probably not a bad idea to put a layer of alcohol on the pomace ASAP.

Be careful with the underlined bit... there are different rules for marc brandy when you add alcohol back in... you may need formula approval if that is your process.

EDIT: i forgot you are in Canada.. you may have different regulations than the US.

in the US.. you are not required to have formula approval for your grappa/marc brandy label as long as you are going from the pommace as it is off of the press.. if you add wine/fermented juice back into the skins, then you are technically required to submit a formula approval detailing how much you are adding back, what proof, blah blah blah.. extra pain in the butt

Edited by Classick
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I've worked in meat, beverage and bakery factories. They all gave their waste freely & gratefully. Using their own bins and/or paying for pickup. Shouldn't be a problem with the wineries either.

As for sanitation, heavy duty liners for the totes and CO2 flushing is probably a good idea. Alcohol will be added as well as water in the stripping still. Probably not a bad idea to put a layer of alcohol on the pomace ASAP.

I can see you have a lot of expierence making Grappa, pomace brandy, etc....

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Be careful with the underlined bit... there are different rules for marc brandy when you add alcohol back in... you may need formula approval if that is your process.

EDIT: i forgot you are in Canada.. you may have different regulations than the US.

in the US.. you are not required to have formula approval for your grappa/marc brandy label as long as you are going from the pommace as it is off of the press.. if you add wine/fermented juice back into the skins, then you are technically required to submit a formula approval detailing how much you are adding back, what proof, blah blah blah.. extra pain in the butt

I happen to agree with you, totally. The reason why I put the rule of thumb example on my statement is, simply because the TTB ask me how many pounds of grape skins I was using per and how many gallons of water I was using to extract the spirit. I think that, the example gives a pretty accurate explanation. As far as wineries being grateful that you are taking their trash in some countries like Italy the so called trash has become a very lucrative commodity. Frankly I believe we are not doing to bad in America either, however if things would get really bad it makes an excellent feed for steers and milk cows etc.. But if that is too much trouble you can pile them up in an unseen corner of your property dump some lime on it and let it mature really good and when you get done but it in your bobcat and spread it back in the vineyard with a manure sprayer, you will not find a better source of organic fertilizer than that. Knowing all this, why should any winery give you this product if there is nothing in it for them, think about it? The people that I deal with they bag it, splash it with co2 and store it, till I'm ready to pick it up. To me that is worth something.

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I've worked in meat, beverage and bakery factories. They all gave their waste freely & gratefully. Using their own bins and/or paying for pickup. Shouldn't be a problem with the wineries either.

As for sanitation, heavy duty liners for the totes and CO2 flushing is probably a good idea. Alcohol will be added as well as water in the stripping still. Probably not a bad idea to put a layer of alcohol on the pomace ASAP.

Technically, if you pay your farmer to pick up any waste, he becomes subject to waste disposal requirements. My farmers are very leary about being paid for pickup.

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Technically, if you pay your farmer to pick up any waste, he becomes subject to waste disposal requirements. My farmers are very leary about being paid for pickup.

I guess its all in how you define "waste".....down here in the US we consider it "raw product"

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I happen to agree with you, totally. The reason why I put the rule of thumb example on my statement is, simply because the TTB ask me how many pounds of grape skins I was using per and how many gallons of water I was using to extract the spirit. I think that, the example gives a pretty accurate explanation. As far as wineries being grateful that you are taking their trash in some countries like Italy the so called trash has become a very lucrative commodity. Frankly I believe we are not doing to bad in America either, however if things would get really bad it makes an excellent feed for steers and milk cows etc.. But if that is too much trouble you can pile them up in an unseen corner of your property dump some lime on it and let it mature really good and when you get done but it in your bobcat and spread it back in the vineyard with a manure sprayer, you will not find a better source of organic fertilizer than that. Knowing all this, why should any winery give you this product if there is nothing in it for them, think about it? The people that I deal with they bag it, splash it with co2 and store it, till I'm ready to pick it up. To me that is worth something.

I've had TTB kick back labels saying they wanted formula approval for my grappas, or ones i was making for clients... I happen to have a signed document from the TTB stating exactly that i do NOT need a formula approval, so now i just include a scan of this file along with my COLA. Many times the people reviewing the label submissions know very little about the regulations they are supposed to be controlling. quite frustrating

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"Grappa" made with supplemental alcohol in the stripping still will be sold as vodka. By pomace, I mean grape, cranberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, cherry, etc.

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Pardon me of piping in late, we were teaching a distilling class last week and I didn't get as much time with my email as usual.

One alternate solution, slightly mentioned by Mike, is to do contract distilling for these wineries. Why pay them when they can pay you?

One of the local distilleries makes 80% of their income off of contract distilling. In Napa Valley, there are any number of wineries who are delighted to add grappa to their portfolio. The distillery files a dba for the product so that the label even reads "distilled by XYZ winery" (instead of the distillery name), and charges the cost of the filing the dba and COLA back to the winery (at a modest profit). Income from each batch is guaranteed. It keeps the doors open, the lights on and you don't have the hassle and risk with selling.

Cheers,

Drew

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pardon me of piping in late, we were teaching a distilling class last week and I didn't get as much time with my email as usual.

One alternate solution, slightly mentioned by Mike, is to do contract distilling for these wineries. Why pay them when they can pay you?

One of the local distilleries makes 80% of their income off of contract distilling. In Napa Valley, there are any number of wineries who are delighted to add grappa to their portfolio. The distillery files a dba for the product so that the label even reads "distilled by XYZ winery" (instead of the distillery name), and charges the cost of the filing the dba and COLA back to the winery (at a modest profit). Income from each batch is guaranteed. It keeps the doors open, the lights on and you don't have the hassle and risk with selling.

Cheers,

Drew

Drew should you interact with any of these wineries, please feel free to send them my way... I have been using this business model for wineries up and down california for the last, oh 8 years :) And yes.. it works quite well... its a pain in the butt making grappa, but its a labor of love for sure

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