Project to explore turning waste into hand sanitiser

Maia Hart, May 26 2020 |

The stems and seeds leftover after pressing left grape marc, which in Marlborough was around 46,000 tonnes of waste a year. | STUFF
The stems and seeds leftover after pressing left grape marc, which in Marlborough was around 46,000 tonnes of waste a year. | STUFF

Turning waste into hand sanitiser is the next project for a research winery based in Marlborough.

The Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) has awarded $84,700 in funding to Bragato Research Institute (BRI) for a pilot study exploring turning grape marc into hand sanitiser.

Grape marc is the stems and seeds leftover after pressing – which in Marlborough can total as much as 46,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The study would look to turn winery waste into ethanol. Any sanitiser made in the initial eight-month study would be bottled and donated to Marlborough health workers and first responders.

Bragato Research Institute chief executive MJ Loza said the industry was continuously looking at alternative uses for grape marc, and Covid-19 presented BRI with “an opportunity to learn more about its properties while exploring a potential business case for a new product”.

Bragato Research Institute chief executive MJ Loza said the industry was continuously looking at alternative uses for grape marc. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Bragato Research Institute chief executive MJ Loza said the industry was continuously looking at alternative uses for grape marc. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

“Using winery waste to produce ethanol for hand sanitiser is untested in the New Zealand context with our varietals. We haven’t had the capability to conduct a study like this in New Zealand until now,” Loza said.

“Managing grape marc has probably been viewed as a disposal issue. However, the marc itself is increasingly being studied for other properties.

“Transforming the wine industry’s waste into a value stream is a research priority. Every time we study grape marc, we learn a little more about its potential for a new commercial product.”

In the long term, the project would explore the business opportunity for the industry to turn waste into sanitiser, which would include “more information on costs, the infrastructure needed and technical findings specific to grape marc produced in New Zealand”.

“We know that grape marc is rich in valuable compounds. The challenges lie in finding a new economy for grape marc without creating a bigger environmental footprint, as well as finding a financially viable market for a new product,” Loza said.

Bragato Research Institute trials winemaking equipment, technologies and processes. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Bragato Research Institute trials winemaking equipment, technologies and processes. | SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Funding for the project was secured through MBIE’s Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund, which was created to support research and projects in covid responses, and provide support to develop and deploy products, processes and services.

The project would be led by winery research manager Dr Tanya Rutan and research programme manager Dr Matias Kinzurik.

Bragato officially opened their research winery in February, based at the Blenheim campus of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

The new facility will trial winemaking equipment, technologies and processes as well as sustainable winery operations.

It will also provide commercial research winemaking services to suppliers and the industry.

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Glasses roster & screwcaps

Glasses roster

Thank you to all those who have volunteered to be part of the glasses roster.
our glasses roster will resume when the monthly meetings resume.


Of course, we still welcome any screw caps you have managed to collect, remembering that the cause that benefits is kidney kids nz and their families.

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Coming events

  • Wednesday 12 August – to be confirmed
  • Wednesday 9 September – to be confirmed
  • Wednesday 14 October – St Clair

Note:  Arrangements are well in hand for August and September so don’t be alarmed.  We will provide details as soon as possible.  Both will be great events, trust us.

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AGM – July 2020

Cellar Club Inc – Annual General Meeting
The Cellar Club Inc Annual General Meeting will be held as follows:

When: 8 pm Wednesday 8 July 2020
Where: Johnsonville Community Centre
Moorefield Road, Wellington

Please give some thought to any proposals you might want to introduce for the meeting, we are happy to take ideas from members about future activities for the Club.

As always members will have the opportunity to sample some wines from our cellar after the formal part of the evening. Hopefully, this can be something special. Not clear yet as to whether we can provide a supper. Your committee will investigate this in the next wee while.

See AGM event details.

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Latest updates, dinner, Wairarapa trip, new editor & retiring editor

Latest updates

We hope all members are coming out of the hibernation that was COVID19 lockdown levels 4-3 and are looking forward to some normality re-energising their lives.  We are now allowed to meet and lots happening so let me set things out for you.  Firstly a major change is planned with Evelyn Dawson taking over the Editorship of your Newsletter.  Evelyn has other commitments and will not be joining the committee, we are however, very keen to seek a new member or two into the committee with both Steve and Robin withdrawing.  Think about it, please.

Evelyn Dawson (New editor)

The Minister of Wine and Cheese
Fletcher, David, 1952: I’ve been told to stop trivialising the work of politicians…

As everyone will realise we have been through strange and challenging times in recent weeks with the Cellar Club being in suspension.  As people have sat in isolation and reviewed the meaning of life I have had an epiphany.  I want to be the Editor of the Club’s Newsletter.  The following are a couple of Club issues we need to deal with.

No mid-year dinner

There will be no July Dinner but instead, the AGM has been deferred until July. See “Looking Forward” for detail.  Organising a dinner in the current somewhat fluid “Level” system is just too difficult.  We do have planning well in hand for our celebration dinner in November which will be special and should compensate.  More later on that.

Wairarapa trip & alternatives

We were all a bit sad that Covid19 meant that the planned Wairarapa trip in March could not proceed. We have been looking at alternatives and we are currently working on a deferment until February 2021.  We will continue to work on this alternative and will keep you all informed.

Robin (retiring editor)

Robin, Pat and grandkids. 2015
Robin, Pat and grandkids. 2015

You will note that I am relinquishing my role as your Newsletter Editor.  I am also looking to stand down as a committee member and would love it if someone else would put up their hand for a turn.  I have always believed that a little “churn” in committee membership allows for the introduction of variety and new ideas. I have been on the committee for 20 years and Editor for 9.  Time for a change.  I will continue to be a member of the club.  Far too much good wine yet to be tasted to give up that privilege.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the committee and very much appreciate the support I have received over the years.  Best wishes for the continued success of the Club.

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The Crater Rim – June 2020

The Crater Rim Ltd is a family-owned boutique winery situated in the rolling hills of Waipara, in the South Island of New Zealand.  They grow, make and market limited quantities of terroir-specific wines produced from their own two vineyards and contracted sites in the Canterbury sub-regions of Waipara, Omihi and Banks Peninsula and in Central Otago.

These sites have been carefully selected for their particular mix of varietal, topography, soil and microclimate – creating high quality, site-specific wines of individual character and drinkability.  The Crater Rim manage their own vineyards and work closely with each grower to ensure that vines are cropped low and managed sustainably, guaranteeing the best quality fruit possible from each vineyard site.

The Crater Rim from above

The result is exceptional wines from exceptional regions. So many good wines that we may try 8 for the tasting. Remember to drink sensibly if you are driving.

Lyn is a Sales Rep who works independently and has represented The Crater Rim for just over 3 years. She says “They are a wonderful family and team to work with and I have grown their brand extensively in the top of the South Island and the lower North Island.  As mentioned previously, her background is in retail and marketing, but she thoroughly enjoys both marketing and drinking the Crater Rim product.

Because of uncertainty about recommencing our programme, and with Lyn making the appropriate arrangements, we are not able to be definite about the wines to be tasted.   They will be chosen from the range produced by Crater Rim including their “From the Ashes” and Waipara ranges plus maybe one or two of the icon brands.

By the time we meet, hopefully, social distancing will be a thing of the past.  We do however ask members to respect other people’s space and avoid close contact where possible.  Will be great to get back into the tasting groove.

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Distilleries pause alcohol production to make hand sanitizer

Michael Rubikam and Lisa Rathke | Mar 17 2020 |

​A US distillery owner who grew increasingly angry as he saw the skyrocketing price of hand sanitiser has decided to do something about it: He’s temporarily converting his operation into a production line for the suddenly hard-to-find, gooey, alcohol-based disinfectant.

Eight Oaks Farm Distillery is temporarily converting its operation into a production line for hand sanitister. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery is temporarily converting its operation into a production line for hand sanitister. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery filled its first 20 bottles this week, a batch destined for charitable groups that need hand sanitiser but haven’t been able to get it due to the coronavirus pandemic. The family-owned distillery plans to dramatically boost production this week and distribute the bottles to charities as well as offer them at farmers’ markets where it sells its spirits and through its website.

The price: whatever people decide to donate.

“We are in a national emergency,” said brewery founder Chad Butters. “What’s the right thing to do? The right thing to do is support this community by providing something that is in desperate need. We’ll flood the valley with hand sanitiser and drive that price right down.”

Chad Butters, founder of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, at his facility in Pennsylvania. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Chad Butters, founder of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, at his facility in Pennsylvania. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Other distilleries are also putting their spirits to work to help fill the shortage of hand sanitisers. Green Mountain Distillers in Morrisville, Vermont, is giving away a hand sanitising solution and Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina, is donating one to hospitality colleagues, using high-proof alcohol and other ingredients. Patrons must bring their own containers.

“We wanted to do something that would be as positive as possible,” said Harold Faircloth, an owner of Green Mountain Distillers.

Smugglers’ Notch Distillery, also in Vermont, plans to launch a hand sanitiser later this week at its Waterbury and Jeffersonville sites. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Vermont’s efforts to respond to the virus outbreak.

“I know I have a unique opportunity to help out a little bit and keep my staff employed,” said co-owner Jeremy Elliott, who said 40 per cent of his business comes from bars and restaurants, which are closing in some other parts of the country.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade group, has been in touch with federal regulatory agencies as well as the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force to clear red tape and “make sure we can be quick and nimble and fill a need in the marketplace”, said chief executive Chris Swonger. “We all want to do our part.”

Swonger said government agencies have been very receptive.

Customers can decide how much to donate for a bottle of hand sanitiser. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
Customers can decide how much to donate for a bottle of hand sanitiser. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
At Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, about 115 kilometres north of Philadelphia, workers experimented with high-proof alcohol, aloe and glycerine to get just the right consistency. The recipe is based on one published by the World Health Organization.

As word got out about what Eight Oaks was up to, the distillery began hearing from people and groups in need, including a pediatric cancer organisation and a woman whose 12-year-old son has heart disease and was desperate for hand sanitiser to help keep him safe.

“I cannot find it anywhere and this virus is especially dangerous to him,” she wrote to the distillery.

Stories like that are why Butters was so disgusted with price gougers who were selling sanitiser online for more than US$300 an ounce – and why he decided to shift his company’s focus.

“We’re trying to make sure we continue to provide a paycheck for our employees and support our community however way we can do that,” he said.

The family-owned distillery plans to dramatically boost production of hand sanitiser this week and distribute the bottles to charities. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
The family-owned distillery plans to dramatically boost production of hand sanitiser this week and distribute the bottles to charities. [MATT ROURKE/AP]
For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Beyond the humanitarian impulses of individual distillers, the liquor industry also has a vested interest in seeing the virus threat dissipate quickly, given its economic reliance on bars, restaurants and other hospitality and entertainment venues that have been shuttered by the outbreak.

Brad Plummer, spokesman for the American Distilling Institute and editor of Distiller Magazine, said he’s been seeing a lot of talk among distillers interested in converting part of their operations to hand sanitiser.

“The hospitality industry is going to be decimated by this and they are our primary clients. We’re looking for ways to help in the response to this, but also to find other ways to look for revenue streams,” he said.

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March & future events

Clearly, as we had no Club activity during March looking back has little value. As it happens it is equally difficult to look forward in our current environment. Suffice it to say that your committee will keep abreast of developments and will make appropriate plans when things become clearer. The Wairarapa trip and The Crater Rim will be foremost in our future arrangements.

Palliser Estate Wines
grava Martinborough
Alana Wines
Coney Wines

The Crater Rim

Clearly COVID-19 has forgotten to consider our club’s 40th-anniversary celebrations.  Your committee is still focused on holding these events as we can and planning is well underway for a dinner at a pretty special venue in November.  So let’s hope the lockdown is a distant memory by then and we can all make up for lost time with a great night out.  In the meantime, we trust all of us are doing our bit to help wineries stay financially afloat.

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Events & condolences


There is little more that I can add.  Other Events and tastings are being pursued but it is clear that the future depends on events somewhat beyond our control.  Let’s hope it doesn’t last too much longer and we can get together to enjoy some good company and wines.


Rick and Fay Julian were members of our club for many years until they shifted to Hawkes Bay. Many of our members will be upset to learn that they have been involved in a vehicle accident where they both suffered mainly bruising injuries that required some hospitalisation.  Unfortunately, Fay’s mother was in the vehicle and has died from injuries sustained.  Our heartfelt condolences and best wishes go to them at this very sad time.

Robin Semmens,

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From your Committee

As you might expect, in the current Level 4 Emergency status, your club has effectively gone into adjournment, albeit your committee continues to communicate and make plans for the year ahead.

Our April tasting with The Crater Rim has been deferred and we are considering the Level 4 impact on the whole AGM process. Our club rules require us to give 3 weeks’ notice of our AGM which we will do as soon as it is practical to do so. However, if this means we will be holding the meeting after May [a possibility] then that will breach the time requirements set out in our constitution/club rules. Whilst we don’t do that lightly, there is no way we can comply with those rules in the L4 environment. We can’t even conduct a Special AGM to change the club rules so we are between a rock and a hard place and just need to be practical.”

We are considering if there is some way we could have a remote AGM.  Your committee has held a meeting on Zoom but there would be too many for that approach.  We continue to think through options and will keep you in touch.

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Marlborough concert celebrates ‘artistic connection’ of music and wine

Sophie Trigger | The Marlborough Express, 4 Mar 2020

Everything goes better with wine does it not?
Everything goes better with wine does it not?

Every time Marlborough cellist Elgee Leung drinks a gran reserva  or gran arzuaga he gets to thinking about a Spanish cellist composer’s music, Cassado, and he will literally play the music in his head when he drinks the wine from his favourite winery in Spain.  Music and wine is purely an artistic connection.”Sometimes when I drink a bottle of wine I think of a particular piece of music,” Leung said.

At a concert titled ‘Die Innere Stimme‘, which translates to ‘the inner voice’, he will feature three traditional German musical works performed by a cello and piano duo, with a wine tasting from Clark Estate served in the intermission.  Leung will play the cello alongside world-class pianist Dr Michael Tsalka, who has 23 CD records and tours the world as a solo musician.

He said Clark Estate winemaker Simon Clark had chosen a selection of wines from the reserve range that captured the “tension” of the three German pieces of music being played.  They hoped the concert would spark the same love of music and wine that Leung and Clark both share.

“I am from a musical background and Simon’s been an amateur trumpeter, and now he plays the french horn in my orchestra. We met because of music and we developed our friendship because of wine and music.  “People will love the connection between wine and music so they can enjoy both sides of this event.”   Elgee Leung conducts the Marlborough Civic Orchestra and works at Clark Estate.

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