British Columbia

Wine waste to palatable paste: Okanagan company turns winery leftovers into flavour boosters

A south Okanagan company is turning a byproduct of the local wine industry into a flavour enhancer for foods.

Winecrush collects grape pomace and creates a puree to enhance food

A picker collects grapes at the Okanagan Valley's River Stone Estate Winery in Oliver, B.C. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A South Okanagan company is turning a byproduct of the local wine industry into a flavour enhancer for foods. 

Bill Broddy says he got the idea for Winecrush, the company he founded in 2016, after he saw a bear and her cubs congregating around a pile of grape pomace while he was on a bike ride between wineries in Summerland, B.C. 

"That was the 'a-ha' moment. Here's something that is very nutritious, has lots of flavour and the wineries don't know what to do with it," said Broddy about pomace, the remains of grapes after they've been pressed.

By weight, one-fifth of the grapes used in winemaking result in pomace, which has traditionally been used for fertilizer, animal feed or distilled to make other alcoholic products, or simply composted or sent to a landfill. 

"It's wasted derivative when it's not properly used," said Broddy.

Broddy says he's partnered with some local wineries to take their grape pomace, mixed with leftover yeast from the winemaking process, to create a puree that can be used in meat and meat-replacement products, sauces, cereals and dairy products to give them added flavour, nutritional value and natural preservatives.  

Among other things, grape pomace is known to contain grape-seed oil, dietary fibre, protein and tartaric acid, which has antioxidant and preservative qualities.

"One of the big areas that is growing right now is meat replacement, and that's because it [pomace puree] not only adds flavour to a veggie burger but … because of the tannins and other flavours from the grape skin it will make salt taste a lot saltier, which allows you to lower sodium in both meat and meat replacement products," said Broddy.

 Winecrush is currently selling its puree to food processors, primarily for natural food products. 

Click on the audio below to hear more:

With files from Daybreak South


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