AVIPE – EMBRACE European Med-clusters Boosting Remunerative Agro-Wine Circular Economy

Company Summary:

AVIPE’s core business is on grapevine consultancy. It supports about 4000Ha from 250 farmers, Peninsula de Setubal – Portugal, and its mains activities are related to integrated pest management, irrigation, fertilizations, training vineyards and investment project implementation. AVIPE was founded in 1984 but only in 1998 started to have a closer relation with farmers. From that date until now, several changes were made in the way technical support is offered: The main challenges are now virus and trunk diseases instead for downy and powdery mildew, the usage of satellite images and remote data instead of a random observation, irrigation techniques related to wine quality and not on empiric analysis, biodiversity protection, the reduction of pesticides usage and sprayer’s calibration to have a better spraying technique.
Besides these activities, AVIPE has a major role in investment projects specially in vineyards plantations, irrigation plans and acquisition of machinery and other equipment.

We also have an important role in farmers education specially in pesticides application and safety on tractor driving.
We are involved in several national projects regarding agricultural management and sprayers inspections, in a Portuguese project regarding the protection and conservation of Portuguese’s grapevine varieties and intensive sustainability of grapevine. Regarding international projects, AVIPE participates in an Interreg Med project called “EMBRACE” regarding circular economy and a PRIMA project regarding the sustainability of greenhouses.

Project Title

Remunerative Agro-Wine Circular Economy

Executive Summary:

By using an easy and intuitive tool to build a circular economy business model (CEBM), this project aims to find, develop and establish new ways to add value to wastes from wineries and vineyards.

In Portugal, as well in other countries, the production of alcohol is under strict rules. To control it, States oblige wineries to declare their residues like lees and pomace. Since there is no other way to declare it, distilleries pay “symbolic” values. There’s the feel of comply with legal obligation but, in some cases, there is also the feel of cleaning some residues which the best usage they could give would be spread them on soils.

With our project, we started to build a map of possible valorizations by searching on EU projects and in some bibliography. After that, We talked with some of the possible industries and evaluate what could be possible and reasonable. Since the concepts of circular economy are brand new for wineries, it was important to clarify them and give them some examples. Using the CEBM tool, we develop the circular economy idea with the wineries and started to implement it.

Our main constrains, at the moment, are the recognition of other wineries wastes possibilities from the Portuguese State, logistics issues, the “need to see” from farmers and scale. In some cases, the amount of residues for industries aren’t big enough and the solution will come from on-farm solutions.



Implementation of circular economy in wineries to bring more value to wastes and to reduce the inputs from raw materials in industries.


AVIPE (Portugal), SARGA and FEDACOVA (Spain), AssforSeo, GAL partenio and T2i (Italy), RAUSK (Bosnia I Herzegovina), FING (Greece), PRIMORSKA (Slovenia), Corsican development fund (France)


Our big challenge for the next years is to implement a sustainable plan for wines and vineyards where all questions related to social, environment and economical are calculated and presented to consumers so that could give a better and more clear information.

We have big concerns regarding territorial development and support and valorisation of rural communities. We think this can only be achieved by allowing this communities to have a better life with good health service, employment, education and security.

However, all this socio-economic effort needs to be integrated in an environmental strategy not just to protect but also to bring value as ecosystem services.


The strategy starts with the development of a circular economy business model. This will help to identify, not just the main idea, but on how can we achieve our results. The process to fill an ecocanvas is the result of a path with several tools and steps which help us to reach a business model. On this paper, it’s only showed the canvas and the path.


To help with the econcanvas exercise, it’s important to show some examples to wineries. So, we have built a valorization map on which are shown some possibilities already implemented and tested in order to start work on that direction.


Considering a SWOT analysis for energetic valorization of vineyard and winery residues, there are some issues that will drive the its destination. Pellets production is probably the best solution because it has a good acceptance from consumers and it can be easily used in municipalities as district heating or to heat some infra-structures such as swimming-pools, libraries or offices.

Figure: Studies to understand economic viability and energy needs according to the month of the year


There is also the possibility to be used in lime and cement ovens but since this equipment burns everything, the best valorization for these residues is dependent on the price of other sources such as garbage. The usage as biomass could bring some technical problems because the residues have Potassium content.

Figure: Pictures of equipment for the usage of pellets

Biogas engines produce electricity or heat and work on basis of anaerobic digestion. Wine pomace can be used for this purpose. If we are just considering electricity production, the investment is big and economic viability is an important issue. It can also be considered as a district level or as an industrial level.

Since these engines produce big amount of heat, if we are considering heat and electricity production, there are some possibilities even at a small scale. There are already some solutions in the market, but the use of this equipment requires certification and security.

For example, a fully anaerobic digestion system for 3,4 m3 including a electricity generator of 1,5 KW costs about 2.122 USD and all installation would cost about 50k€. If this generator works for 2 h/day it will produce 3 KWh/day x 365 days/year = 1,095 MWh/year. If the average cost is 120 €/MWh, the saving would be about 164,25 €/year and it would take about 20 years to pay all installation.

This could be a great solution not just for farms but also for houses, schools and other services such as tourism.


Figure: 3,4m3 biogas unit for heat and electicity


Figure: 15m3 biogas unit in Netherlands

Figure:On-farm biogas production equipment


When we’re talking about pruning residues, there is a dilemma: If we are using pre-pruning machines the grapevine brunches will be small which makes the recovery impossible or if we are using workers to prune the vineyard, the activity is expensive and the needs equipment to recover the brunches. The use of pruning residues, as well with the stalks, as a fertilizer has been a practice since ever.

Pruning residues incorporation in soil is a very often practice because it’s easy and quick.

There are some studies which can warn for the increase of trunk disease fungus and bacteria in plants when the residues are not removed and burned.

It’s a matter of organic matter increase and, if we consider to use wine pomace as a fertilizer, the C/N relation is 25 which perfectly balanced for composting.

It could be interesting to study the pomace microbiome evolution from the start until when it’s over and the compost is ready.

There are 2 projects (vineyards4heat.eu http://vineyards4heat.eu/ and Proyeto VITIBOM – HAZI) which have developed a solution for the pre-pruning problem and had interesting results by using pruning residues as energy solution.


The usage of stalks and pomace, for animal feeding, has also been used for a long time. However, the new approach is for algae and insects. AVIPE has started a project with Biotechnology school of Setubal’s Politechnic Institute to study the use of wineries wastes on algae. We wanted to know if these residues could replace the residues from tomato industry, the most common. The results were interesting because algae grow much quicker. The main idea of this project is to process algae to become a protein substitute of soya and corn in animal and fish feeding. We also started a relation with an insect company to use wine pomace to feed larvae. The idea is similar to the algae where the main goal is to process larvae e produce protein and lipids.


There are already in market, grapevine seed oil for human food. It’s a natural substitute of other oils such as sunflower and peanut. Even thou grapevine is a “cultural crop” in Portugal, the use of this oil is rare and unknow.

Besides that, 1L of this oil can cost about 10€/500ml bottle against 0,8€/1L bottle for the sunflower oil. There was already a meeting with a Portuguese company which produces it to understand the process and if they were interested in receiving grapevine seeds from our wineries.

It was said the production is coming from Spain because Portugal only consumes 30 000l of this oil and it’s worthless to invest in one factory. As far as we understood, it’s quite common its consumption is USA and Asia.


Some cosmetic companies have products with grapevine seed oil. It’s also common to see this kind of product in SPAs and other health centers. It’s also common to see some soaps with grapevine seeds to be used as exfoliant.

There are some projects that try to develop this idea but it has not been easy.


With COVID-19 situation, the production of alcohol hand sanitizer from pomace, wine and lees got an impressive attention. States have easiness the production and control and have allowed without big controls the production of this product. There are much to understand on how bioactive molecules from wine can be extracted and be available for pharmaceutical industries.

The same situation happens with resveratrol pills. There are plenty of products in the market but trust and certain is sometimes low.



There are many practices in winery that could be implemented in order to recover and re-use some inputs and some outputs. Tartaric acid and water are two of the best examples. CO2 is also an example of an output which could be collected for carbonic maceration, for example.


There are already several solutions for wineries wastes besides the production of alcohol. Some are easier to implement but other need more developments for the process. There is also a need to explain and motivate wineries for implementation and valorization of these products but the biggest effort should be taken to convince governments to accept the all mention possibilities, and others that could come in the future, as a destination for winery wastes. There’s also a problem of scale that could lead us to on-farm solution but even on those cases, pilots and demonstrations are needed. The development of a circular economy ecocanvas could help the implementation of new solutions.


Next steps should be taken for the implementation of relationships with industries and clusters.
As mentioned previously, meeting with government and national authorities should be held in order to explain circular economy solution.


If any of the presented cases work, the replication effect could be massive. In most of the cases it’s not a problem of technology by a problem of mindset and to start.






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