Energy and water efficiency and improved visitor experiences were key criteria when John and Paul Nunes planned their recent winery expansion. Jamestown Vineyards, Greenvale Vineyards and Newport Vineyards use the Nunes’ facility to produce their wines.
Heat Recovery Unit/Heat Exchanger
The Nunes installed a Therma-Stor heat recovery system that captures waste heat from tank chillers.
Food grade glycol-filled pipes run between jacketed tanks and a 60-ton G & D Chiller from Oregon. Insulated pipes minimize condensation, dripping and reduce risks of mold and slippery floors. Typically, the excess heat from a chiller would be released from air conditioner-type units on a rooftop. At Newport Vineyards, all that heat energy is captured and used to preheat water as warm as 160 degrees F. A traditional gas boiler just has to top off the hot water temperature to meet facility demands. All conduits are insulated to preserve heat.
Grape Vine Pellets
The winery purchased a grapevine pelletizer made by Buskirk Engineering and an Italian-made grape vine baler from CAEB last year. The vine baler collected prunings between vineyard rows. Typical vines produced about two pounds of excess woody material each year. The Nunes’ baler also gathered apple tree prunings at nearby orchards. The baler makes small, donut-shaped bales, which need to dry for several months. This year the Nunes will make pellets starting in mid-November with the early summer prunings. In future years, pellets will be made in late August and early September during the slow time before harvest season.
Vine and orchard tree health has improved with pruning removal, minimizing fungal re-inoculation and significantly reducing fungicide needs.
A large Pellet Boiler made by Central Boiler will provide backup heat when the heat exchanger does not supply enough energy on cold winter days. Conduit filled with a food-grade, water-glycol blend will carry heat from the outdoor pellet stove into the utility room. Once there, the heat can boost the hot water temperature or add warmth to the radiant floor system as needed.
The outdoor pellet stove sits on a concrete pad outside the Tank Room. An enormous pellet bin has a 3 to 4-day capacity. An automatic filler will keep the pellet stove properly fueled for ideal burn temperatures.
Radiant Heat Floors
Heated floors make people feel warm at lower room temperatures, saving energy. The winery has six different zones in its various manufacturing, storage and public spaces. Owners have the flexibility to heat only the spaces needed. Unlike the nearly instant response of forced hot air systems, radiant floor systems have a long warm up cycle. When hosting an evening event, John said he would turn the floor heat on a few hours ahead.
Passive Solar Heat
Large windows on south-facing walls help heat the new Tank Room and Visitor Center. The outdoor windows have a reflective coating and a carefully calculated roof overhang to minimize summer overheating in the Tank Room. John Nunes said he is not worried about excess summer heat in the Tank Room as “the wine will have been moved into oak barrels or bottled by the time summer really heats up.” If the air conditioner should have trouble keeping up, John said he could turn on a tank chiller.
The Newport Vineyards renovations utilize natural light in the Tank Room. Several banks of operable interior windows allow visitors and staff to look across the Tank Room into the vineyard. Large overhead doors allow easy access for forklifts and fresh air.
Phase two of the renovation will feature energy-efficient LED up lighting in the Cask Room and under the Tank Room catwalk. This will allow a fantastic “Wow!” moment for winery tour quests and banquet room visitors. Outdoor vineyard lighting will utilize LEDs in phase three.
Since this winery is used to produce many different wines for Jamestown Vineyards (3), Greenvale Vineyards (7) and Newport Vineyards (30), the facility needs many different tanks of various sizes rather than a few enormous tanks. John expects two more double tanks next week. The tanks will have two chambers: 600 gallons over 1,000 gallons. The new Tank Room has 30-foot ceilings allowing tank capacity to grow up instead of needing a larger footprint. 22’ tall tanks have replaced many of the winery’s 14’ tall tanks. A 9-foot high catwalk runs between two rows of tall tanks allowing easy access to the upper tank doors.
De-stemming and Pressing
Jamestown Vineyards and Greenvale Vineyards handpick their wines. Grapes are passed through the Amos destemmer to remove the stems and leaves before being transferred to the 5 ton capacity SK press supplied by Prospero Equipment. The Nunes added longer legs allowing the 1-ton Saeplast bins (made in Canada) to fit underneath the destemmer. This means the grapes and juice can drop right into the bins for the first stage of fermentation. John said pulling stems from grapes tears the skins and can release tannins. To reduce bitterness, they treat the juice gently and minimize pumping, especially early in the fermentation process.
Winemakers work to minimize bitterness in all stages of the fermentation process. To gently stir the must, air is injected with a Pulsair pump creating ‘mushroom shaped bubbles.’
Adjusting tank temperatures can start, speed up or slow fermentation. Just before bottling, wines are heated to 65-68 degrees F to drive off most of its carbon dioxide. Cooler wine could create condensation on the bottles and cause problems with the labeler.
The Nunes shortened the legs of many of their fermenting tanks so valves and doors are at convenient height for staff.
All three vineyards utilize the Winery’s bottling line. Except for some of the premium reds, most bottles are sealed with a recyclable screw cap. The GAI machine from Prospero fills, caps and labels bottles. John said very few American wineries use screw caps outside of California.
Newport Vineyards has used aluminum Stelvin screw caps to provide a quality taste experience since 2006. You can view the winery’s harvest and bottling process video here.
Screw caps protect wines from Cork Taint, a chemical compound called 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA) which occurs when chlorine and mold come into contact with natural corks, oak barrels or wood pallets. The result is a damp, musty aroma and/or taste similar to wet newspapers. Wine industry studies show Cork Taint can affect 2 to 15 percent of wine bottles.
Water used for washing tanks will be captured, filtered and used for vineyard drip irrigation. Large wooden barrels will collect rainwater from the roof for landscape irrigation.
Visit or Learn More
Visit the vineyard at 909 E. Main Road/Route 138, Middletown, RI Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. 60 -minute wheelchair-accessible winery tours are available daily at 1 and 3 p.m. Guides explain how grapes are grown, harvested and how the wine is made, aged and bottled. Following the tour, guests may taste selected wines.
A similar story ran in the December/January 2013/14 edition of Wine & Grape Grower.