Did you know that at the Cave de la Crausaz we have a tradition of rinsing and reusing our bottles that dates back more than eighty years? And that we are the only ones in our region to do so? Before the word “ecological” was actually invented, we were already pioneers of the environmentalist movement – without even knowing it!
It all began with Julien, the great-grandfather of Alain Bettems, the vineyard’s current owner. Between the two world wars, he suggested collecting the used wine bottles from the customers when new wine was delivered to them. He washed the bottles by hand after soaking them in a special tub. As the production increased and more and more bottles had to be washed, several persons had to help him. This is why in the fifties, he decided to buy a Riond bottle washer (the “Vigneron” model) to automate the washing process. It saved a lot of time, and the members of his staff who had to do the rinsing before could work elsewhere in the vineyard. Today’s bottle washer is a “Léman Junior” and dates from 1983. It was refined and constantly improved over the years, and it is now able to rinse between 1600 and 3000 bottles per hour. “In earlier times, we would rinse the bottles, put them in crates, fill them with wine and then label them,” Alain Bettems explains.
Since our bottle washing machine works independently of the remaining bottling line, however, we can also rinse around 600,000 bottles.
We still own the last bottle washing machine Mister Riond sold before his death. We are proud of the fact that we are the only winemakers who rinse and reuse their glass bottles. The other winegrowers have long since stopped doing this because the whole process is rather cumbersome and because the use of self-adhesive labels renders rinsing the bottles impossible. In order to optimize work, a conveyor belt brings the bottles from the washing machine to the lower floor where they are filled, closed, labeled, packed in cardboard boxes and palletized. We wash and reuse around 350,000 of our own bottles every year.
Since our bottle washing machine works independently of the remaining bottling line, however, we can also rinse around 600,000 bottles for other winegrowers and small breweries.
We had our total water pollution checked and the result was that we do not cause any problems for our local sewage plant. Our bottle washer uses 2500 liters of water in a closed cycle; the water is renewed regularly, of course. What is more, the bottles are also cleaned on the inside with brushes, which means that we do not have to use any chemicals at all.
Our eco-friendliness does not stop at the doors of our cellars, however, but continues in our vineyards. Planting and pruning of the vines, thinning out of leaves and harvesting the grapes is done exclusively by hand.
Very soon, we will go completely organic with part of our production – because ecological thinking is in our DNA.