Okanagan-based Winecrush has received research and development support from Agriculture and Agri Food Canada for its innovative “Marlee” Project, a new bio mechanical process to transform the food grade wine derivatives — typically discarded after harvest and crush — into a high-performance flavour enhancement ingredient.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has awarded funding to Winecrush through its Agricultural Clean Technology (ACT) program, which invests in the research, development, and adoption of clean technologies leading to the promotion of agri-based bioproducts.

“We are honoured to receive support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Their ACT program was a perfect fit for our stage of development,” says Bill Broddy, co-founder and President of Winecrush. “The Marlee Project is designed to give wineries an effective alternative for the derivatives from the winemaking process, rather than let these food grade materials go to waste.”
Sending these materials to the landfill or leaving it on winery property leads to methane emissions and soil contamination. This new process developed by Winecrush is designed to cost effectively convert these materials into natural food additives suitable for a variety of health and food products, with both high nutritional and monetary value.

As part of its pilot program, Winecrush worked with 10 Okanagan based wineries to collect their pomace (also known as marc, the grape skins and seeds left after grapes are pressed), and lees (the sediment left behind). A total of 150 tonnes of wine derivative was saved from landfills, avoiding the release of a total of 6,500 kilograms of methane, the equivalent of 175* carbon credits.

“We weren’t sure what to expect when we signed up to partner with Winecrush, but their vision for sustainability and environmental preservation seemed to be in line with what we are trying to achieve here at Stag’s Hollow Winery,” says winemaker Kiera LeFranc.

“The team at Winecrush was extremely responsive in addressing any questions and concerns we brought forth, and they were diligent in ensuring the entire process was as non-disruptive, easy, and streamlined as possible. We are very excited to partner with them again for the upcoming 2021 harvest season, and we appreciate the focus on environmental sustainability that their initiative is bringing to the wine industry,” continues Ms. LeFranc.

Based on the success of the program supported by Agriculture and Agri Food Canada so far, Winecrush is already putting plans in place for the 2021 harvest.

Born in Canada’s scenic Okanagan wine rich region, Winecrush has been focused on doing great things with wine derivates since 2016. Founder of Winecrush, Bill Broddy, was inspired by the grape eating habits of North America’s healthiest bear, a famous resident of the Okanagan valley. Bill’s “aha moment” occurred when saw the bear and her cubs congregating around discarded grape pomace while, reminding him of the obvious – even after pressing during wine making, grapes are still exceptionally rich in phenolic compounds, fiber, antioxidant properties due to anthocyanins, hydroxybenzoic acid, hydroxycinnamic acid, contained in the grape skins and seeds. Winecrush is now working with some of the leading wine scientists in Canada, pioneering a new, proprietary process for transforming winery derivative into valuable nutrition.