DAVIS (CBS13) — With California in the midst of a severe drought, winemakers in need of water are turning to UC Davis for answers.

“It’s used for cleaning equipment,” said UC Davis Dr. Davis Block. “After you use a tank, or use a barrel or you use a crusher/destemer, you’re using water to clean that out. and that’s going down the drain.”

The chair of the viticulture and enology department says it takes up to six units of water to make the same unit of wine, before taking into account the water it took to grow the grapes.

So UC Davis is upgrading, becoming the posterchild of winery sustainability. The winery runs on solar power, and newly installed fermenting tanks will soon connect to a water-recycling system capable of reusing 90 percent of the water used to clean equipment.

“We can do things like take the water that’s used in the last rinse, that’s already fairly clean from the last rinse of the tank, and use it as the first rinse of the next tank when we’re trying to get out some of the gross dirt,” he said.

Winery manager Chik Brenneman showed CBS13 the self-cleaning fermenters, which act much like a dishwasher with spinning sprayers.

“Essentially, you have a certain flow rate that’s required to spin this spray ball here and this broadcasts against the side of the tank as well,” Brenneman said.

UC Davis hopes to have its water recycling system up and running in the next year. The school does not have a license to sell, so it’s just sip-and-spit.

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