Start Here Penticton: Wine Crush

Penticton-based Winecrush receives federal attention for innovative product

Tag(s): Working Here

Much like a fine bottle of Okanagan wine, Penticton’s Winecrush Technology Inc. is maturing beautifully with age.

Winecrush products, from salts to meats and cheeses and breads, used to be spotted in tasting rooms and gourmet food shops around the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland, but the vision for this innovative company has grown significantly.

They’ve racked up a number of awards and recognition – a rising star award from the BC Cleantech awards, and appearing on the Rocket Builders ‘Ready to Rocket’ list of the province’s leading growth tech companies – including some recent key investments.

Late in 2020, Winecrush was awarded $100,000 through Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s Seed Fund Initiative, which supports clean technology that provides real solutions for clean alternatives that reduce Canada’s carbon footprint.

Earlier this spring, Winecrush 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 awarded this funding 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 were 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.”

As part of its pilot program during the grape harvest in 2020, 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 “Marlee” from wine production is processed into healthy phenolic compounds, a great source of fibre, with antioxidant properties and other health and nutrition benefits.

“We’ve had a strong response from the plant-based foods market where there is significant innovation occurring,” says Winecrush CEO Kirk Moir, “and while we’re still in trial stage, we have a number of new customers lined up and are very happy with the results we and our customers are achieving.”

Penticton’s Winecrush Technology additive is poised to make waves in the plant-based food product market, and soon to make its way on to ingredient lists.