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GE, UC Davis and Winesecrets to use recycled rainwater for wine production

Published 03 March 2017

The University of California Davis (UC Davis) and wine industry solutions provider Winesecrets have aligned with GE to pilot a new program to use captured rainwater in wine production.


Reusing rainwater, rather than pulling freshwater from the aquifer, the pilot program offers a unique way to supply the needed wash water in winemaking.

GE’s Water & Process Technologies provided a reverse osmosis (RO) system and a Total Organic Carbon (TOC) analyzer to the winery at UC Davis as an inventive way to use existing technologies with advanced digital capabilities for a new application.

The pilot enables the winery at UC Davis to have more control over its source water by not having to rely on the aquifer with its varying water quality and availability.

University of California, Davis, Sustainable Wine and Food Processing Center Jill D. Brigham said: “The new pilot with GE, Winesecrets and UC Davis to use recycled rainwater is exciting. The rainwater is cleaner than groundwater sources, as it doesn’t contain as much mineral content—that makes filtering the water easier. The rainwater is collected from the roof of the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building and other campus buildings.

"It then goes through the treatment system so that it can be used to clean the tanks and equipment at the winery. We treat about 7,000 gallons per day of water for use in the winery."

The rainwater capturing system transports the rainwater through downspouts to a holding tank with a capacity of 1,200 gallons. After going through a 50-micron media filter, it is pumped into two 45,000-gallon storage tanks that feed the water treatment system.

Rainwater inherently has fewer contaminants than traditional municipal water sources like rivers, lakes and groundwater. This also reduces overall treatment costs making the process more environmentally friendly, sustainable and cost-effective.

Relying on stored rather than municipal water puts the winery in control of its supply avoiding the costs of using municipal water as well as the varied quality of municipal water. Having a secure supply is a substantial benefit especially in areas of drought or complex water rights.

Water & Process Technologies’ RO system purifies the rainwater to a potable level and removes contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, viruses, toxins, dust, pollen, bacteria and pollution. The TOC analyzer measures that the potable product water consistently meets the required quality.

GE’s Water & Process Technologies engineered systems global leader Kevin Cassidy said: “Combining the use of Water & Process Technologies' reverse osmosis and TOC analyzer technologies, the pilot purifies the rainwater so it can be used at the winery. It has the potential to greatly enhance the industry’s sustainability efforts particularly in areas like California that are looking for alternate sources of water during times of drought."


Clark Smith - Honored as a top 50  Leader in the Wine Industry

The Winesecrets team congratulates Clark Smith who was  recognized in the December issue of Wine Business Monthly as one of the 50 TOP LEADERS in the Wine Industry for 2016.

“Clark Smith helped popularize cross-flow filtration, the use of technology for reducing alcohol levels in wine, and more. He continues to encourage winemakers not only to embrace technology, but to talk about it”


A rethinking of how science can serve wine


king aesthetic has given birth to the postmodern view of winemaking championed by Clark and is  the subject of his on-going  column and book, Postmodern Winemaking.


Clark was one of the original founders of Vinovation, a company that developed the technology of which forms the core of  Winesecrets services. Clark is a vocal advocate of pushing the technology envelope in the removal of Volatile Acids, Ethyl Acetate and other taints and spoilage in wine. Winesecrets congratulates Clark for recognition of his life’s work in the industry.





Winesecrets awarded the Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service


We are pleased to again receive The California Employment Development Department and the California Employer Advisory Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service in the Employment of Veterans for the year 2016.

The presentation was held before the Labor Law Seminar at the Doubletree  in Rohnert Park Wednesday, October 12, 2016.  

“Winesecrets is a small company.  We rarely exceed 19 employees, but in the last five years we’ve hired 13 people with prior military service.”  Said Winesecrets President,  Eric Dahlberg. “   

The company has made veteran hires a priority, roughly a third of its personnel have a military background. Winesecrets has developed an –on-the job-training program to provide incoming veterans with industry specific skills while working at its wine production facility.  

Eric Dalhberg, President of Winesecrets accepted the award on behalf of the team.



Michael Gribben is promoted to General Manager at Winesecrets

August, 2016, Sebastopol CA - American Winesecrets, LLC (Winesecrets), The Professional’s Choice for Winemaking Solutions is proud to announce that Michael Gribben has been promoted  from Director of Operations to General Manager. Mr. Gribben has over 17 years of wine industry experience to include working as Bottling Maintenance Manager, Production Manager, Operations Manager, Director of Packaging and President of a Mobile Bottling Company.   He has worked primarily with large commercial and luxury wineries in Madera, Santa Rosa, St Helena and Napa, and was named Production Manager of the Year by the North Bay Business Journal in 2013. Mr. Gribben came to Winesecrets in August 2014 as the Director of Operations and utilizing his experience and knowledge implementing new methods, models, practices and procedures, he has elevated the company to  a new level of excellence

            Michael comes to American Winesecrets with 20 years’ service in the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Ground Data Communications-Electronics Maintenance Officer. He retired in 1999 as a Chief Warrant Officer -3 and is a perfect addition to the Winesecrets team of veterans. “I’m excited to bring my experience and knowledge to a local company with such a strong commitment to helping veterans,” said Michael.  “I look forward to leading a growing company with such a dedicated and professional management team.”  

            As a 2013 California Veteran Employer of the Year and a 2014 Leadership in Creating Employment for Veterans with Disabilities award winner, Winesecrets actively seeks to leverage the skills and education brought to the workplace by America’s Veterans.  The company has made veteran hires a priority.  Approximately 35% of its personnel have a military background.  "I am thrilled that an operations professional of Michael’s caliber has been promoted from within our organization," remarked company president Eric Dahlberg,  “I see him playing an important role in our companies future growth.”  




Catherine  Leonard (Richardson) - Lab Manager

Catherine Leonard Lab Manager Our customers talk with Catherine Leonard all the time.  Catherine is our Lab Manager and more importantly, she runs our Targeted Filtration Test Track Beverage Trials. We developed the ability to run 2 to 5 gallon trials on many different beverages using all of our technologies based off of targeted filtration platforms. When you work with Winesecrets, Catherine is an integral part of the process.

Catherine grew up in San Francisco and earned her BA in Biology from UC Davis. She had the opportunity to explore jobs in other scientific areas, such as medicine and education but had always been drawn to winemaking.  "My education in winemaking has been hands on. There is no better way to learn winemaking than actually making wine. In a way, it is like cooking. It doesn’t matter how many books you have read or how many demonstrations you have watched, until you get in there and start tasting and smelling and blending yourself, you really know nothing at all.   Wine is more fun and rewarding than anything else.  We are participating in making something - to help people really transform their wine.  Who wouldn't want to work in the wine industry?

For Catherine, the latest greatest techniques to help winemakers is Ultra-Filtration and Flash Détente.

"Ultra-Filtration can really balance and mature wine in a really exciting way. Wine makers often already know what they want, but because we have the Test Track, we can offer 2 to 5 gallon trials to show the potential of Ultra-Filtration whether you need to discover outcomes like filtering taints or enhancing the color of your wine, employing The Test Track is an inexpensive way to figure this out.”

In addition to Ultra-Filtration, the portable Flash Détente has been a big help to winemakers.  “I have been so happy with the success of Flash Détente. If you are up against Mother Nature, Flash will kill possible mold and give you good extraction of color and tannins. (Our Flash Detente unit is smaller than most and it can process 1-8 tons at a time so wine makers can try it out using a small batch of wine.)

“I love working for Winesecrets because we represent an important segment of winemaking that few outside the industry know about.  Plus it's so satisfying to be working on something new, like the Test Track that no one else is doing. The Test Track project was like designing my own house. I could make sure that all the features and equipment was exactly where I wanted them. I think our methods and technology are far ahead of the norm, and that makes working here satisfying and yes, exciting.” 

If you are interested in learning more about Test Track and Trial’s, please contact us at or 888-656-5553.


Winesecrets is featured in

Orchard & Vine Innovation Issue








Innovations in technology,  marketing and wine making. - See more  




William Atwood Promoted to Director of Finance


May 19, 2016, Sebastopol CA - American Winesecrets, LLC (Winesecrets), The Professional’s Choice for Advanced Winemaking Solutions is proud to announce that William Atwood,  Business Services Manager, has been promoted to Director of Finance.

Mr. Atwood has over 14 years of accounting experience to include working at a local public accounting firm for over 10 years, while there he earned his C.P.A., a certification he has held for over 6 years. He worked primarily with local wineries and his interest in the wine industry grew.  

            Bill came to American Winesecrets with five years’ service in the United States Navy as a Lockheed Viking S-3B Aircrewman, and is a perfect addition to the Winesecrets team of veterans. “My position as Director of Finance enables me to help our company stay on the cutting edge of new technologies as well as strategically guiding the financial decisions of the Winesecrets now and into the future.” Says Bill.

   This November, Winesecrets was honored to accept the Veteran Employer of the Year Award from the Sonoma County Employer Advisory Council.  “Winesecrets is a small company.  We rarely exceed 19 employees, but in the last five years we’ve hired 12 people with prior military service.”  Said Winesecrets President,  Eric Dahlberg. 

The company has made veteran hires a priority, roughly half of its personnel have a military background. Winesecrets has developed an on the job-training program to provide incoming veterans with industry specific skills while working at its wine production facility.  

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Southern Cross Flash

Flash Detente in NZ - Happy with colour!Winesecrets’ Flash Détente system has been serving wine producers in New Zealand.  This portable unit operates at 1-1.5 tons of grapes per hour.  It is an ideal platform for providing operational experience with Flash Détente technology in small production quantities.  The system was offered to the Kiwi winemaking community by Winesecrets’ partner, Vintech Pacific.

Winesecrets has been sharing winemaking technology and production equipment with Vintech Pacific in New Zealand for a number of years now.  Since our harvests differ by six months, transporting high-value harvest equipment between the Northern and Southern hemispheres makes fiscal sense.  Vintech Pacific operates mobile wine filtration services throughout the wine production regions of both islands.  They work hard to meet the demand from NZ wine makers to source the latest technologies that are offered in the US.  Flash Detente is one more innovative technology that Vintech can offer their clients, courtesy of us here in Sonoma County. New Zealand operations were performed under the guidance of Flash Détente expert Rick Jones.

Flash Détente (détente is a French word for relaxation or depressurization), or Thermo Flash, is a technique developed in Europe over 20 years ago. Flash Detente has been available at several winemaking facilities in California since 2009.   

The process consists of heating de-stemmed grapes to a high temperature (175-185 F), then immediately pumping the must into a vacuum chamber. Once in the vacuum chamber, depressurization causes some of the water contained in the grape skins to rapidly evaporate or “flash” into steam. The vacuoles in the grapes skins explode, releasing the tannins and color they contain. This release of color pigments and other large molecules results in immediate and complete extraction of color components without the time required by traditional maceration methods such as punching down or pumping over.  Flashed wines often contain, on average, about 30% more color pigments.

 The steam which flashes off of the grapes is condensed. This flash water contains grape volatiles, particularly pyrazine. The water can be discarded resulting in a grape must which is essentially free of vegetal character. It is this application of flash that has led to its widespread adoption in California. Flash may also be a good procedure to reduce impacts from brush fire smoke or other airborne contaminants.

An incomplete list of the benefits of Flash Détente include:

  • Ability to ferment red wines in the absence of skin and seed solids in a storage tank instead of a fermenter.
  • Reduction of Pyrazine and vegetal character
  • Mitigation of  airborne taints deposited on grapes
  • Ability to barrel-ferment red grape musts
  • Elimination of Laccase, mold or unripe flavors.

Relatively dry, warm conditions prevailed around New Zealand during January and February, and winemakers anticipated a large harvest of well-ripened fruit.  But weather happens, and March brought rain and with it the threat of mold, mildew, and bottrytis.

Vintech’s Kiwi customers discovered was how well Flash worked to preserve the color of their wines.  They reported:

  • Amazement at the instant color extraction from the fruit.
  • Impressed with the green flavors extracted through the process.
  • They experienced a 2 brix rise, which meant blocks could be picked earlier with potential bad weather coming.
  • No off flavors encountered during pressing or fermentation.
  • Instant pressing freed up fermenter space when additional tonnage is coming in.
  • Equally good results with Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet and Pinot Noir
  • Flash is a great tool which they all want to use again next year.

Winesecrets is currently booking service commitments for its portable Flash Détente unit in Western wine production regions for the 2016 harvest.


We are featured in Wine Business Monthly, December 2015

Winesecrets Offers Mobile,

 Small Lot Service

Winesecrets operated a small Della Toffola flash unit during the 2015 harvest that is capable of processing grape loads of 8 tons or less with a minimum  lot size of 1 ton, either as a mobile service or for use at the company facility  in Sebastopol, California. “This machine is portable and small, making it  practical for estate wine programs or for research scale wine lots,” Winesecrets   president and founder Eric Dahlberg said. “It can be useful for  a Napa winemaker, or one with high-end grapes, who is interested in the  technology but doesn’t want to bet a full 10 tons of fruit.” Dahlberg planned   to take the machine on the road to Oregon and other North American wine  regions where harvest runs later. He said, “This little machine will help  winemakers answer detail questions, and it will help winemakers all over  North America deepen their understanding of this technology.”

Wine Secrets Flash Detente evolves
Winesecrets Honored by the Sonoma County Mayor’s Commission  

On October 28, Winesecrets was honored to accept the Veteran Employment Recognition award from the Sonoma County Mayor’s Commission.  The award, presented by Windsor mayor Bruce Okrepke, acknowledged Winesecrets “extraordinary steps to promote hiring and training of returning military veterans, some of whom are burdened with the most stigmatized of disabilities to include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury”.   The award was presented as part of the Mayor’s Commission’s 12h Annual Best Practice Awards Breakfast in Santa Rosa.

Winesecrets’ president, Eric Dahlberg, said: “We realized that our particular business was unique.  So much so that we could employ  returning vets and train them to become desirable employees to large wineries.  We could be that all-important first resume job."

Winesecrets’ wine production facility operates on a schedule apart from the rest of the industry, a perfect training opportunity.  The veterans who get their start over the summer at Winesecrets are then connected to contacts at large wineries where they will be qualified to lead harvest crews.  This is good for the industry, as the increasingly technical methods of wine production will need employees who can read, write, and operate computers.  It is good for the veterans, as the wine industry will remain a source of living wage blue collar jobs which won't be off-shored anytime soon.

“We have had a variety of levels of disability, and a variety of outcomes.  Most of our vets have moved on in our industry.  Others chose other paths as the economy improved.  One went back to Active duty.  Two have gone back to school. Some veteran employees have struggled with PTSD, not always successfully.”

Sonoma County Mayor’s Commission is dedicated to the hiring, promotion, and retention of people with disabilities in Sonoma County.  Winesecrets provides a variety of outsourced wine production services, and is headquartered in Sebastopol, California.

Winesecrets was awarded the Veteran Employer of the Year Award from the Sonoma County Employer Advisory Council. 


We were honored for our support of our veterans here in Sonoma County by the Sonoma County Employer Advisory Council. The SCEAC has done a lot for the community here in Sonoma County. Not only do they help keep businesses abreast to the ever changing California laws by offering low cost seminars, they are informative and could help businesses stay out of trouble. Many organizations have benefited by the Council’s contributions. They support an outstanding scholarship program for both veterans and no-veterans. They also go the extra mile to give financial support in helping job seekers with certifications and advance studies so that they may secure employment. We are pleased to be honored by such a fine organization.

Six steps on evaluating the risk of smoke taint.

In the last 10 or so years, vineyards have been intruding into forested land, especially in the Northwest.  Drought-like conditions and heavy, dry under-canopy areas have created ideal conditions for forest fires. Wine producers have been impacted by wildfires in British Columbia in 2003 and in Northern California in 2008. With more fires in California. Washington and British Columbia late in the growing season, smoke impacted grapes have become one more environmental condition that winemakers must overcome.

To summarize, because you are busy:

  1. If your grapes have been exposed to fire smoke, collect whole berry or cluster samples for chemical analysis.
  2. Plan ahead.  If you know that you will be bringing smoke-impacted fruit into your winery, do your best to segregate these lots.
  3. Don’t Jump the Gun. Following the fires of 2008, more than a few winemakers followed some of the steps presented above, and when not able to detect the flavors or aromas in their wine, decided that they had dodged the bullet.  Sadly, this was not always so. 
  4. Now What?  At this time, Reverse Osmosis-based removal methods are the most effective means of reducing smoke taint. 
  5. Be patient, do it right. Analytical measurements of G and 4MG serve as a starting point for predicting the duration of filtration required.   However, final determination of completion of your treatment method needs to be determined with your trusty wine glass.
  6. Talk to other winemakers who have encountered this problem.  There is both good and bad info out there.  Study up.  And of course, read more  

Two Tools for Crush

Be the first on your block to explore Flash Détente technology, now available on a small lot scale!
Why use this technology?  Winemaker Rick Jones, pioneer of Flash Détente technology in the U.S. describes the process in a Wines and Vines interview:
“Beyond the basics of better color, structure and lower veg, I think co-fermenting flash and traditional grapes has a lot of promise. This is done quite a bit in South America, for example. They identify the weaker vineyards, flash those grapes and combine them in the fermenters with better grapes that are crushed traditionally. This offers a number of benefits—for example, easier pressing, and the flashed grapes contribute to better color and structure and lift the traditional fruit character by the amylic aspects of the flashed fruit.”
The Flash Détente system thermally removes pyrazines and other vegetal and off-characters by contact-heating the must.  The system then depressurizes the must for immediate extraction of pigments, sugars, tannin, and other desirable fermentation components.  The result is elimination of off-flavors that come in on the grape skins, and greater extraction of color, aroma, and flavor. 
You’ve heard about it, now try it.  Our Pocket system is good for 1-10 ton lots, call us for processing locations.



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