Water is an essential element of our lives. As World Water Day approaches we summarized what this life-giving fluid means for us in our enological work. We’d like to share what we, the employees of Etyeki Kúria, do to appreciate it, to take care of it.
When we pour wine into our glass, we tend to forget that the liquid dancing in it is nearly 85% water. Of course, water does not only play a key role in the chemical composition of the end result. When we talk about its significance we need to think holistically, looking at the system as a whole. Starting with how the soil can store that water, the means by which and the quantity of water the vine can absorb from the soil, to how we rationalize the significant amount of water that is inevitably used during winemaking.
In our wine region there is approximately 600 millimetres of precipitation every year. This amount has arrived with an increasingly hectic, unpredictable distribution in recent years. There are long periods of excessive drought followed by short but extremely rainy periods. Under such conditions, it is of essential to best preserve the water retention capacity of the vineyard soils, keeping in mind that a vine evaporates 1.5-3.4 litres of water from the soil in one day.
Before new plantings, we assess the soil structure of the area to be planted, as well as examine the terrain conditions. If necessary, we change certain terrain conditions to ensure that the amount of precipitation can be optimally utilized in the plot. Longer paths until the bottom of the hill are established for the drainage water, water barriers are installed and microterraces are created. In our case as we are present in two wine regions, these design and construction works requirement a significant investment of energy and expertise, as the water retention capacity of each plot is unique.
A winery facility has a high water consumption by nature, therefore it is also our responsibility to rationalize this quantity the best we can. The water demand of cleaning, tank and barrel cleansing are particularly significant during harvest periods. In our winery, a double sewer system has been set up to transfer the technological water used in the cellar to the sewer network of the town in a prepurified state, pH neutralized and free from mechanical residues. So far few wineries have such a multibranch sewer system that allows for separate treatment of communal and technological water. In 2013, as part of the facility development project, when Etyeki Kúria decided to build the sewerage network on the Öreghegy, it was clear that we need to pick an innovative and progressive solution in order to also protect the environment.
Despite the fact that the drinking water system was already built by Etyeki Kúria on the Öreghegy in the late 1990s, rainwater is still collected in a 60 m3 tank. We would not want to let what nature gives us go to waste.
Conscious water usage is true for the entire facility. We use our own water softening equipment in the buildings and restrooms are operated with water-saving rinsing systems. In the case of bottling, the use of clean, sterile filtered water is of paramount importance. Filtration is performed in house up to 0.2 microns, essentially to pharmaceutical purity.
Of course, our efforts for conscious water use do not stop here. As we evolve, plan, we strive to do even more. In our new facility under construction we are raising the stakes further. In addition to a three-way sewer system - in which we can treat white, gray and black wastewater separately - we are planning a water recycling system, which will allow us to employ the water used for bottle cleansing later, for example for plant protection activities in our vineyards.
Without water there is no fruit, no wine. Without water, we ourselves would not exist. Let's take good care of it!