Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 27/01/2006, pg. 35

LEADED or unleaded petrol could be laced with ethanol produced from excess chardonnay or pinot noir, according to Granite Belt wine grower Angelo Puglisi.

A worldwide glut of wine is forcing prices down and Australian grape growers need alternative markets such as distilleries producing greenhouse-friendly fuel, he says.

The Ballandean Estate winemaker says Granite Belt growers could follow the lead of French and Italian winemakers who have found markets for substandard wines in the fuel industry.

In France, the worldwide wine glut forced winemakers to make 100 million litres of wine into ethanol last year for selling to oil refineries to mix into fuel.

Mr Puglisi says he would be willing for a distillery to be built on part of his land at Ballandean which he claims could be productive all year, processing wine into ethanol for use in brandy, muscat,

ports and sherries as well as for production of ethanol for fuel.

The ethanol is produced by boiling the alcohol off wine, condensing it and capturing the vapour.

“Ethanol is easy to make and relatively cheap. It’s expensive because of the excise duty when it’s used for a spirit,” Mr Puglisi says.

Victorian grape growers recently asked the Federal Government to support a proposal to turn part of its half a billion litres of surplus lower quality wine into ethanol.

Mr Puglisi says Queensland needs to explore the options because huge plantings of vineyards three years ago will result in peak production this vintage.

Some Queensland growers already have up to 80,000 litres of wine in cellars and a new vintage about to be harvested, he says.

“Eighty per cent of Queensland wineries are processing only some of their grapes. In Australia last year 120,000 tonnes of grapes were left in paddocks.

“It’s too late to process the skins and solids this vintage but if you make it into wine, store it in tanks and build a distillery it could be used for making ethanol,” he says.

Copyright 2006 / Courier Mail