The ruby red cabernet sauvignon grape seeds moved through a complex of chutes and tunnels in a Santa Rosa warehouse, and passed through a drying machine resembling a long, shiny cement truck where they were blasted with hot air.
Soon, tiny drops of oil would be squeezed from the seeds to make grapeseed oil, and the remaining residue would be further dried and milled into flour.
Once used as compost, the byproducts of grapes crushed into wine at Kendall-Jackson vineyards are now being re-purposed into culinary oils, gluten-free flours and artisan cookies.
The products, part of a line called WholeVine, are made by SonomaCeuticals, a new company founded by Barbara Banke, chairman of Jackson Family Wines, and Peggy Furth, former co-proprietor of Chalk Hill Estates & Vineyards.
One of the company's main goals is to raise sustainable charitable funding for the community. It pledges to donate a portion of its profits to local children's charities.
"The hope is that this company will generate some profit, and a significant portion will be diverted to that," Banke said. "We're just starting now to sell the product...Hopefully we can generate significant sales this year."
Another priority is to reduce the environmental footprint of the wine industry.
At a launch event on Thursday at the Kendall-Jackson tasting room outside Santa Rosa, guests sampled savory toasts and delicate chips made from a variety of grapeseed flours.
"We started looking at the whole vine," Furth said. They found that the flour they made from grape seeds and skins is high in antioxidants, dietary fiber and essential amino acids.
"The more research we do, the more intrigued we are," Banke said. "They have natural sunscreen effects, because the grapes protect themselves from the sun. There's a lot of research to do, and it's a fun journey."
Eventually, the vineyard byproducts could be used to make cosmetics, natural food coloring, nutritional additives, paper and textiles.
Eight varietals of culinary oils are priced at $25 for a 375 ml bottle on the company's website. The flours, which are not yet for sale to individual consumers, are aimed at commercial bakeries.
At the processing facility, the $500,000 Buhler Aeroglide industrial drier has been running all day and night for three weeks, churning through tons of residual grape skins and seeds delivered from coastal wineries.
"For this to work economically, we have to find a use for the flours," Furth said. "What we really need for this to work would be for a national food brand to pick this up."