Wine Lees: Winery Waste to Sustainable Treasure

Wine Lees: Winery Waste to Sustainable Treasure

Wine lees, the sediment that accumulates at the bottom of the barrel during the winemaking process, are often overlooked in the journey from vine to glass. They are a complex mixture of organic compounds with a high oxygen demand (BOD). With values exceeding 30,000 mg/L, the disposal of wine lees poses a significant environmental threat. When managed improperly, these residues can lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and oxygen depletion in water bodies, contributing to pollution and ecological imbalance.  


The traditional fate of wine lees has been disposal or use in low-economic-value activities such as fertilizer production. This underutilization fails to acknowledge the rich dietary fiber and antioxidant compounds present in the lees. Moreover, the sheer volume of wine lees generated—amounting to 25% of winemaking by-products—exacerbates the need for sustainable management practices. However, this by-product, rich in yeasts, bacteria, and polyphenols, holds untapped potential that extends far beyond the winery!


The good news is that the tide is turning, with scientific and technological research shedding light on the multifaceted applications of wine lees. These applications span various industries, including food, cosmetics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture, promising a sustainable end for this valuable resource. In the food industry, wine lees have been successfully incorporated into products like ice cream, with the presence of anthocyanins and phenolic compounds in the wine lees not only improving the nutritional profile of foods, but also offering a unique selling point for health-conscious consumers.   The cosmetic industry, too, can harness the power of wine lees. With their skin-whitening and anti-aging effects, extracts from wine lees can be formulated into creams and serums, tapping into the growing demand for natural beauty products.


Despite the promising applications, wine lees remain one of the least studied and exploited winemaking by-products. Technological prospection, a method of mapping the current state of technology development, reveals that only a handful of patents have been filed concerning the properties of wine lees.  The main technological family of wine lees is food chemistry, but their potential extends to basic material chemistry due to their rich organic content. This versatility underscores the need for an integrated approach to maximize the extraction and utilization of compounds from wine lees across different sectors. By transforming wine lees into value-added products, the wine industry can reduce its environmental footprint and create new revenue streams, while emphasizing the reduction and recycling of waste to mitigate environmental risks, thus unlocking a world of sustainable possibilities.  Wine lees are a testament to the adage that one person's trash is another's treasure!


For more information on how Graver Technologies can help with the recovery of wine lees, visit our Scepter page.

Need help?

You can find the right application or product using our Tool, or through our Chat Bot.

Keep In Touch

Keep up to date with our latest news and announcements. Unsubscribe anytime.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.