How a Central California winery uses worms in wine production

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Monday, April 26, 2021
How a Central California winery uses worms in wine production
What wine pairs with earthworms? O'Neill Winery utilizes a wastewater filtration system which uses worms to remove 99% of contaminants.

Parlier, California -- Worms are helping a Valley winery on its path to becoming more green.

Olympic-sized swimming pools at O'Neill Winery are actually beds filled with worms helping the company become greener.

"Our technology at BioFiltro, what it is is the star of the show is the worm. Ultimately, the worms are known as an ecosystem or environmental engineers," said Mai Ann Healy, BioFiltro spokesperson.

BioFiltro, an international company, was able to go through Fresno State's Valley Ventures program that focuses on water, engineering and technology businesses.

The worms are known for converting waste or organic matter.

Water is spread across the worm beds and goes through levels of wood chips, river rocks, drainage cells and exit pipes.

"So within four hours, our worms are getting fed, getting full and also producing more microbes and bacteria that's furthering helping us reduce and convert waste into beneficial byproducts," Healy said.

The technology allows the company to take about 80 million gallons of processed water and clean it.

O'Neill Winery is the seventh-largest winery in California. They produce wines and spirits sold around the United States.

"So what we are trying to do is provide a sustainable process so that we can have a facility that is environmentally stewards, that is reducing our carbon footprint, reducing/minimizing our waste," said Phil Castro, senior director of winery operations.

O'Neill said they've taken steps to be more green with solar energy and the BioFilitro system.

They're able to save water and use that for crop irrigation and reduce the amount of water they use.

"So we can ensure for generations to come that there's water available to continue the great process of agriculture," Castro said.

A sustainable process and technology thriving here in the Valley.