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Site work began in late September on 2.81 acres at 21900 Carneros Lake Lane in Carneros Business Park for Ganau America's $5 million, 38,000-square-foot processing and distribution facility.

[caption id="attachment_15907" align="alignright" width="259" caption="Rendering of Ganau America's $5 million expansion"][/caption]

“The building should be finished by the end of May or beginning of June,” said Mariella Ganau, chief executive officer of Ganau America. “We’re moving forward fast to get the slab in before the rains.”

The new location will have four times more laboratory space than the current facility at 21750 Eighth St. E. to accommodate winemakers who want to conduct their own tests. The new building also will have ample insulation to reduce energy usage, which will be offset partly by photovoltaic panels.

The Sonoma-based company is a subsidiary of family-owned Sugherificio Ganau S.p.A. of Sardinia, Italy’s largest producer of natural cork wine bottle stoppers.

Del Starrett Architect of Santa Rosa designed the project, with metal-structure sourcing from Soule Building Systems of Cotati. Jim Murphy & Associates is the general contractor.

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[caption id="attachment_15909" align="alignleft" width="130" caption="Private Preserve label"][/caption]

Private Preserve plans to start producing its cans of wine-freshness-fostering inert gasses locally starting in early November. The Napa-based company has ended a two-decade contract with a Phoenix firm that filled the seemingly weightless bottles and shipped orders, bringing those functions to a new location in south Napa.

Private Preserve founder Scott Farmer secured a $415,000 Small Business Administration loan through Presidio Bank and TMC Development to purchase a 2,333-square-foot industrial condominium at 69 Sheehy Court.

The waning relationship with the packager created financing challenges, but Dave Cassassa of Presidio and Dave Griffith of TMC helped make it happen, according to Mr. Farmer, 62. Dave Buurma of NAI BT Commercial represented him in the condo purchase.

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Custom winemaker Napa Wine Co. in Oakville is the first demonstration site for an experimental process that uses microbes to convert industrial process wastewater into hydrogen gas. Napa Wine wants to eventually use the gas in fuel cells to create electricity for vehicles and facilities, but for now a small portion is being used in a fuel cell connected to the plant.

This refrigerator-sized demonstration plant is designed to process about 1,000 liters of wastewater daily. Waste enters the unit, naturally occurring bacteria convert organic material into electricity between pairs of carbon and stainless-steel electrodes then wastewater flows out to be treated, in this case via aeration ponds. Bruce Logan of Pennsylvania State University conceived of the system, and environmental engineering firm Brown & Caldwell built it.

"In the laboratory, we can produce hydrogen gas at recoveries of up to 400 percent compared to electrical energy, and 86 percent energy recovery based on organic matter and electricity," Dr. Logan said.

The wastewater going into the plant must be sieved to remove particles, and the strength, called chemical oxygen demand, must be 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams per liter.

A number of North Coast wineries already use anaerobic bacteria to consume higher-strength organic matter in winery wastewater so the water can be discharged into a sewer or reused for secondary washing of equipment or vineyard irrigation. A byproduct of that bacterial action is methane, which can be used to fire boilers or electrical generators.

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Cliff Lede, who owns Cliff Lede Vineyards in the Stags Leap winegrowing area of Napa County, purchased Breggo Cellars in Mendocino County's Anderson Valley region.

He bought it from Douglas Stewart and Ana Lucia Benitez-Stewart. They started the winery in 2005. It produces 5,000 cases a year, mostly Anderson Valley pinot noir and pinot gris wines.

Mr. Lede finished his winery in 2002 but wanted to produce pinot noir. "We have long been interested in diversifying our operating into new regions and complimentary varietals," he said.

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Napa County Sheriff's deputies arrested three men suspected of trying to steal photovoltaic panels from Honig Vineyard in Rutherford on Sept. 30. There have been more than a dozen thefts of panels in the county in the past 15 months, according to the sheriff's department.

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The governor on Oct. 11 signed Assembly Bill 94, reauthorizing the Natural Heritage Preservation Tax Credit program, which expired in June 2008. The program allows state, local governments and nonprofit organizations to voluntarily acquire park, habitat lands or conservation easements at 55 percent of fair-market value. Written by Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and sponsored by the Trust for Public Land, AB 94 also allows for use of local funds or state conservation bonds with the credit.

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Parducci Wine Cellars of Ukiah earned a 2009 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. The wine company was the sole winner in the Enhanced Leadership category for previous winners.

Parducci won the award in 2007 for efforts to become a "carbon neutral" winery, an effort intended to be part of the state's fight against climate change. Process wastewater is recycled in the vineyards and wetlands, and solar power is designed to amount to all of annual electricity demand.

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Wine People

Winemakers Dave Dobson and Scott Peterson formed WineCraft in Sonoma to pool custom-winemaking orders from growers to get better volume discounts. Their phone number is 707-935-6883.

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Wine Events

Napa Valley Grapegrowers will be hosting the Napa Valley Wine & Grape Expo on Nov. 5 at Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Topics of the all-day conference and tradeshow include water conservation, wine blending and sustainable operations.

Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and California Association of Winegrape Growers plan to hold a Smart Marketer seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Santa Rosa, starting at 4 p.m. Nov. 12. Topics will be grape contract resolution and market enforcement.

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Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.