Elutriate Systems signs Korbel Winery up for a wastewater pond
aeration system upgrade, power savings $40,000 annually

PG&E rebates back half of the project cost.
Korbel continues in a leadership in stewardship & sustainability,
Setting another good example for the wine industry to emulate


Arroyo Grande – Elutriate Systems, owned and operated by Glenn Wensloff (BSME Cal Poly ’86, Petalauma HS ’79, SRJC (4 hard and painful years)).  My getting into Cal poly was due entirely to the late Gene Benedetti, of Clover Milk, a local regent for the school, and previous tough Poly football star.

Elutriate Systems just signed up Korbel winery in Guerneville, to a major modification and conversion of the long existing wastewater ponding system.  The existing floating aerators will be replaced with a fine bubble diffuser system and rotary blowers, controlled by Variable Frequency Drives and Dissolved Oxygen control.

Currently, Korbel is maintaining an aging fleet totaling 100 Hp of floating aerators.  This is a previous popular winery wastewater design known as facultative ponds.  One of the services that Elutriate Systems specializes in, (Wines & Vines 1999), is converting these ponds to aerobic digesters.  (Hahns Estate Winery has flowed 12 Mgd through the ESBRPS (Elutriate System Bio Reactor Pond System) installed in 2004.  Why this obvious best solution was not immediately embraced by the industry is a reflection of the resistance provide by the entrencheched Civil Engineering firms, with an entrenched history in the wine industry, not being able to provide the required depth of engineering.  Basically, recreating the same old facultative ponding solution, which with time has proven inefficient and a basic waste of resources, both land and energy.

The ES aeration system utilizes a rotary blower, mounted on land, (servicing floating aerators from a dingy becomes obsolete), and fine bubble diffusers mounted to the bottom of the pond.  In this manner the entire water column is aerated.  The result is an increase to both the amount digested and the rate BOD (biological oxygen demand) is digested from the existing pond.  (The BOD is a measurement, quantifying alcohols, sugars, organic acids etc are in the effluent).  The result of the above is that the ponds don’t need to be as large, a smaller body of water has to be aerated, more efficiently and the savings begin to compound.

The rotary blower is controlled by a Variable Frequency Drive and Dissolved Oxygen sensor, as the winery wastewater production varies, seasonally, daily, and randomly, the blower speeds up and down based upon the actual need.  The resulting power savings by this control method are significant & stunning.  In Korbel’s case the power bill will be reduced from $80,000 per year to $40,000 per year, and this savings is estimated to last over the next 20 years with little maintenance other than oil changes, and bearings, normal wear items.

The benefits of this treatment technique was further validated one day at a “Compost Tea” seminar, at Lotus Land in Montecito, put on by the www.soilsfoodweb.com group.  The bacteria generated as the BOD is consumed aerobically, is a great organic soil amendment, and foliar spray.  And in a sense is completing the circle, the land gives up energy to yield a great product wine, and the stewards of the land are able to harness the sugars, alcohols, organic acids, (energy of the process) and turn it into bacteria which is beneficial to the soil.  The increase of the aerobic bacteria is that the organic material in the soil is able to digest quicker and more efficiently and the nutrients are returned to the soil, again in a quicker more efficient and beneficial manner.

The traditional methods of round-up, pesticides etc, kills the entire beneficial microbe colony.  The more opportunistic ones are able to rebound quicker as the previous natural check and balance system is destroyed.  The result is that by abandoning a natural nutrient uptake cycle, an artificial and manmade system, which is inherently not broad spectrum in concept and approach is utilized, which is not sustainable and very costly. (Thanks to the relentless research by Monzanto, Ortho and others..)

There are several additional wins to the wine industry by utilizing this technique (which by the way Elutriate Systems did not invent, and is a very traditional sewer treatment method).  ES’s perhaps only claim to fame other than pushing sewer treatment technology upstream, was realizing that winery wastewater is not fecal waste water (pretty obvious) and is a byproduct to be harnessed and utilized.

  • The depth of the water aids the oxygen transfer resulting in a 5 times better usage of electricity.  (ponds over 10’ deep can benefit from this upgrade)
  • Increased production and or better treatment can be obtained by turbo charging the existing ponding system.
  • These systems can be packaged in tanks resulting in a lot less real estate being required.
  • The aerobically treated effluent can be utilized to augment the irrigation demands of the winery as the high BOD effluent is converted into “compost tea”.  This irrigation augmentation is also rebated back by PG&E for the power savings of not utilizing the well pump.
  • This method increases ones sustainability, reuses resources previously underutilized, is organic and LEED’s approved
  • Additional production capacity can be achieved by installing an ESBR (Elutriate Systems Bio Reactor) ahead of an existing ponding system.  The ponds are then  reduced to only having to polish the effluent, not do the main digestion.
  • ESBR’s are already utilized by wineries locating in industrial area’s where ponding systems are not practical (Premium Wine Storage, Viansa, Cental Coast Wine Service)
  • ESBR’s can also be placed under ground in parking lots, under vineyards, (ZD Winery, Grassini Winery).  This allows for both a dual usage of land, and may be a more beneficial visually aesthetic option,



Winery wastewater management is becoming a growing concern in wine production. The wastewater generated by a winery is high in biological oxygen demand (BOD), which occurs due to high levels of dissolved sugars during crush and alcohol after fermentation..  The Bio Reactors used by Elutriate are custom sized and configured to the customers operation. The system utilizes pH control, fine bubble diffusers, tanks (above or underground), rotary blowers and a clarifier to capture the bacteria for return to the waste stream.

“Our process provides a cost-effective and sustainable method for wineries to handle wastewater,” said Wensloff. “And the energy used is optimized and qualifies for several rebates.”



© Elutriate Systems 2001-2011

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