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Chablis steps up sustainability focus with new methanation system

Published:  05 April, 2019

The Chablis Winegrowers Union (FDAC) has embarked on a €4.8 million project to implement a new methanation system in a bid to improve sustainable practices across the region.

Described as a “breakthrough in the move to enhance sustainability in the wine making process”, the new methanisation processing area will be located in the South of Chablis where 700 winemakers, belonging to the FDAC, will be able to bring the by-products of wine making to be processed in the system.

The grape pomace will be passed through a machine to separate any seeds, which research found unsuitable for the process. These will instead be set aside for alternative uses such as cosmetics.

The remaining wine pomace will then be placed in covered silos where the fermentation process begins; then finally into the methanisation machine.

The biogas produced by the machine will then be directly injected into the Gaz Réseau Distribution France (GRDF) circuits - the natural gas distribution network in France. With no element of the process wasted, the remaining product left in the machine will be sold as fertiliser.

The project made Chablis one of the first wine regions to put in place a methanation process of “this kind and on this scale”, said Louis Moreau, president of the BIVB Chablis.

“Sustainability is a key focus for Chablis and the rest of Bourgogne so our winemakers are always looking at new innovations on both small and large scale projects.

“We believe the new system will be a success and with a younger generation of winemakers who have travelled the world for their studies and then come home to Chablis, we will work hand in hand with them to bring in new practices to protect the environment and our terroir.”

The new system, which is jointly funded by the FDAC,the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and subsidies from the local region, follows several research studies to test the feasibility of the project, including a six-month study in Belgium using a ‘pilot’ system with wine by-products brought over from Chablis to find the most efficient method of methanation.

With the project already underway, the system is expected to be up and running by Autumn 2021.