Grapes in Our Glasses and on Our FacesThe grape vine commonly furnishes our tables with wine, raisins, and fresh fruit. But get ready for many more of its gifts. Lately, the vine has offered grape seed oil, desirable because it burns at higher temperatures than other commonly used cooking oils. You might also have noticed the appearance of grape seed oil and other grape products in cosmetics, soaps, and moisturizers, marketed by big companies like Lanc�me, Biotherm, Clarins, Shu Uemura, and Aveda, among others. These new products are inspired by perceived health benefits and the availability of an enormous amount of waste that remains after wine is made.

At a time when �reuse, recycle, and reduce� are motivating innovation, the vineyard waste stream inspired Barbara Banke, chairwoman of Jackson Family Wines, and Chalk Hill Winery co-founder Peggy Furth to launch WholeVine, an enterprise that is attempting to convert seeds, skins, leaves, and canes into culinary oils, artisan flours, paper, textiles, cosmetics, and food coloring.

�As we looked at our wine companies, we talked about the total annual production of a grapevine and how to find value in what we throw away,� Peggy Furth explained to Jeff Quackenbush of the North Bay Business Journal. The Jackson Family coastal wineries alone produce four million pounds of seeds annually, and to convert them into other products would provide both financial and environmental benefits.

Banke and Furth are devoting impressive resources to their project. They�ve set up a 17,000 square-foot production and development facility in Sonoma County and enlisted the help of food scientists at Jackson Family Wines and the University of California, Davis, as well as artisan food experts. The Sonoma facility employs seed driers that can handle 500,000 pounds. Oil is then squeezed from the seeds, which are dried further and milled into flour. Initial products will be 16 variations of high-protein, high-fiber flours milled from the seeds or skins of five different winegrape varieties, a line of cookies made from four of these flours, and eight varietal culinary oils.

In their beginning stages of development, each product is expensive and will require premium markets, at this point commercial bakers and chefs. When products begin to generate revenue, Banke and Furth expect to donate a significant portion of the proceeds to local children�s organizations.

We have been focusing on the grapes in our glasses, but eventually the fruit could constitute the bread on our plates, the cream on our faces, and the clothes on our backs. Grapes matter!