Enology Notes

Enology Notes #125, February 12, 2007

To: Regional Wine Producers

From: Bruce Zoecklein, Head, Enology-Grape Chemistry Group, Virginia Tech

Subject: New Edition of Winery Planning and Design CD Available; Winery Planning and Design Workshop; Sustainable Wineries; Dragon Wines – The Chinese Wine Industry; Virginia Tech’s Enology Service Laboratory

1. New Edition of Winery Planning and Design CD Available.  Edition 12 of the Enology-Grape Chemistry Group’s comprehensive 200-page review covers the essential planning and design considerations of critical importance in winery establishment. The Winery Planning and Design CD is available through Practical Winery and Vineyard magazine. Email them at , or call (415) 479-5819.

2. Winery Planning and Design Workshop.  A Winery Planning and Design Workshop is scheduled for March 5, 2007 in King of Prussia, PA, one day prior to the start of this year’s Wineries Unlimited program. The Valley Forge Convention Center is just outside of Philadelphia. Registration information is available at www.wineriesunlimited.com.

One of the presenters will be Greg Swaffar, of Summit Engineering, Santa Rosa, CA. Greg’s firm has designed a number of wineries. He will cover some of the basic steps in winery development including: 

  • Property Selection
  • Master Planning
  • Permitting
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Recovery

He will provide some case studies, and discuss the issues of master planning a winery, which include:

  • Marketing Program
  • Process Considerations
  • Evaluation of Existing Facilities
  • Area Requirements
  • Process Area Relationships
  • Conceptual Layout Drawings
  • Reconciliation of Site Constraints
  • Architectural Design Input
  • Conceptual Cost Estimate and Program Reconciliation
  • Schedule Review and Phasing

For additional meeting information, see Enology Notes #124

For registration information, see http://www.wineriesunlimited.com.

Please note: Pre-registration deadline is Monday, February 26.

Please note: The Winery Planning and Design CD (see above) is NOT included with registration. A hardcopy manual specific to the course topics will be provided.  

3. Sustainable Wineries. One of the important topics of discussion at the Winery Planning and Design Workshop (see above) will be sustainable winery development.

As sustainable viticultural practices have spread, so has the interest in sustainable winery construction. This involves design and construction, including the sustainability of the site, water usage, energy usage, environmental quality, and materials.

Until the rise of the petrochemical industry a few decades ago, all agricultural chemicals were organic. Likewise, a few decades ago, almost all construction was with local material, i.e., sustainable. Today, building and construction in the USA uses 65% of the electricity consumed, produces 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions, uses 30% of the raw materials, and consumes 12% of the potable water.

With green designs, the important components are usually energy savings and water recycling.  Green wineries may have the added advantages of uniqueness and increased public acceptance.

The long-term operational savings from sustainable designs may help to offset some of the initial costs, while frequently improving the work environment. Improved working conditions may result in higher productivity.

The following on sustainable winery architecture considerations is adapted, in part, from Chauncey (2006).

Reduce heat loss or gain:

  • Have portions of buildings underground or partially under­ground.
  • Have barrel storage areas where walls are in contact with the earth.

Increase building shading:

  • Block sunlight that would fall on building surfaces.
  • Plant trees along the south and west faces of the winery.
  • Install a wall trellis and grow vines or shrubs to shade walls.
  • Design sunscreens that both shade and ventilate heat away from the wall surfaces.

Increase daylight levels and outside views: 

  • Add additional windows and skylights.

Increase natural ventilation.

Control water usage:

  • Reduce water use by collecting wash-down water, filtering, adjusting the pH level, and using for irrigation of winery grounds.

Use cool-build materials:

  • If metal roofs are utilized, use materials developed or painted with infrared-reflecting pigments.

Create a building with mass.

These and other sustainable issues will be reviewed and discussed during the workshop (see above).

4. Dragon Wines – The Chinese Wine Industry. People associate China with many things, but few link the country with wine. However, with the world’s fifth largest vineyard area and the seventh largest production level in 2004 (OIV), that may change.

In November 2006, I was invited to lecture at two universities (Agricultural Research Station of Guangdong Province in Guangzhou, and at the China Agriculture University in Beijing) and tour Chinese wine regions. The following is the first part of a review of that visit and of the Chinese wine industry.

China has a long history of wine production, although exactly when the Chinese began to produce wine is a matter of speculation. Chinese literature accounts for the introduction of grapes from modern Uzbekistan during the Han Dynasty (136 to 121 BC) and their planting in Xi’an, the legendary eastern terminus of the Silk Road near China’s Yellow River. In 1980, a 3000-year-old, tightly sealed copper container was unearthed in an ancient tomb from the Shang Dynasty (1554-1045 BC) in China’s Henan Province (south of Beijing). Scholars have determined that it contained grape wine, likely made from one or more of the indigenous, wild varieties.

The modern wine era in China began with the communist takeover in 1949. State-owned wineries were built and expanded, and the blending of grape wine, fruit juices, water, fermented grains, coloring, and flavoring agents became common. As such, the term wine traditionally has a different meaning in Chinese culture than in the west. Jiu, which literally means alcohol, was used on all labels until recently, not allowing for the distinction among alcoholic beverages. Rice-based alcohol is referred to as wine, as are various fruit alcohol concoctions, including white spirits (baijiu). Modern Chinese winemakers now make an effort to specify grape wine by labeling with the term putajiu. This is helping, but the term wine is still widely misunderstood in China.

China’s Four Modernizations Program, launched in 1978, opened the door for the modernization of the country’s wine industry through international involvement. The Chinese government began emphasizing wine to help quench the national thirst for alcoholic beverages. Indeed, the Communist Party decreed that consumption should change from grain liquor to fruit liquor in 1987. The 1990s saw a decline in state-owned wineries, but an increase in foreign investment, modernization, and western technology.

More than 100 wineries have been established since Premier Lu Peng’s exhortation at the National People’s Congress in 1996 that Chinese drinkers must reduce their consumption of grain alcohol, and switch to wine. Since that time, the government has encouraged state-run “wine manufacturing plants” to grow western grape varieties.

With a country as vast as China, it is easy to imagine a wide range of climates and soils suitable to wine production. My first stop was at the Agricultural Research Station of Guangdong Province in Guangzhou, in China’s southern Canton region. This semi-tropical zone does not concentrate on viticulture, but on sericulture, the production of silk.

Over thousands of years, intensive breeding has rendered the silk moth (Bombyx mori) a blind, flightless, egg-laying machine, whose larvae hold the secret of silk production. The Chinese discovered the potential of its ancestor, a wild, mulberry leaf-eating moth unique to China. For 3000 years, China (known in the West as Seres, or Land of Silk) had a monopoly on silk production. While China is no longer the only producer, silk today represents a very important agricultural commodity for China. The Agricultural Research Station of Guangdong Province is the research center concentrating on breeding of the silk worm, and on the important by-products of silk production. These by-products include mulberries, nutritionally-based products, juice and, of course, mulberry wine. I gave several lectures on wine technology, and toured their extensive wine research labs and experimental winery devoted to mulberry wine research.

More to follow.

5. Virginia Tech’s Enology Service Laboratory. One of the most common questions the Service Lab receives regards the reporting of results, and assistance with interpretation. If requested, results can be mailed, faxed, or emailed. More commonly, we create an individual password-protected website for each winery, with links to pertinent Enology Notes. If you would like to have a website established with an example results page to evaluate our system, e-mail with the subject “Sample Page.”           

The Analysis Request Form and Analysis Price Form are being updated. Although the Service Lab is entering its second year, we are not increasing prices, and strive to maintain the most affordable commercial laboratory services in the industry. To view these updated forms, visit the Enology–Grape Chemistry website at www.vtwines.info. The forms can be found under Enology Service Lab; go to Analysis Info & Forms.

Subscription to Enology Notes. All past Enology Notes newsjournals are posted on the Enology-Grape Chemistry Group's web site at: http://www.vtwines.info/.

To be added to (or removed from) the Enology Notes listserve send an email message to with the word "ADD" or "REMOVE" in the subject line.

Dr. Bruce Zoecklein
Professor and Enology Specialist Head Enology-Grape Chemistry Group
Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg VA 24061
Enology-Grape Chemistry Group Web address: http://www.vtwines.info/
Phone: (540) 231-5325
Fax: (540) 231-9293
Cell phone: 540-998-9025