Indevin Group has been a leading producer of wine since 2003 with more than 3,000 hectares of planted vineyards and wineries across three New Zealand wine regions - Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, and Gisborne. Since 2007, Indevin have partnered with wine retailers in Australia, the USA, and the UK to support both private and own brand wine programmes, and in 2021 acquired the Villa Maria brand.

More recently, the Indevin team has focused on increasing energy efficiency and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels from their wineries, to further support the company’s environmental and sustainable business goals.

Indevin General Manager Capital Developments Sandy O’Connell says the company is focused on where they can have the greatest positive impact.

“We are building a sustainable business model that ensures our future, respects our people and protects our critical natural resources,” says Sandy.

Sandy O'Connell, GM Capital Development - Indevin

In vineyards, most emissions come from diesel, which is used in machinery like tractors, irrigation, and frost fans. In New Zealand in 2022, more than 2000 vineyards harvested about 532,000 tonnes of grapes. For wineries, the largest emissions come from using diesel and LPG to run boilers. All up vineyards produce about 47.4kT CO2e each year, while wineries produce 11.46 kTC02e per year.

We want it to be efficient and low energy use so if there is a choice we want to go for the one that offers the low carbon options. Electrification and decarbonisation are now the best business option.

Sandy O’Connell, General Manager Capital Developments, Indevin Group

Indevin is a large-scale business that has rapidly increased in volume. Sandy initiated the decarbonisation process because the business has a strategic objective to grow the winery. That growth meant the team began to examine their processes and see how they could be improved from both a technical and efficiency perspective.

“I want to get some real things done here. We have projects to do and choices that need to be made and we need to make good choices,” says Sandy. “The sustainability element is critical and there comes a point where businesses need to lower their emissions and decarbonise.”

EECA co-funded an energy transition plan for Indevin, which looks at how energy is used at the winery and their vineyards (the demand profile) and the critical performance parts of their process.

How an energy transition plan works

A certified energy professional:

  • identifies technology, process change and energy efficiency opportunities
  • investigates opportunities for heat recovery
  • assesses which options are suitable for sustainable fuel switching for the business
  • provides a financial assessment of the options.

The plan includes a timeline and the emissions reduction opportunities to provide the business with a pathway approach.

The report was completed last year and highlighted a lower emissions path that will allow the decarbonisation of the winery’s process heat, with the elimination of LPG and diesel for the heating requirement of the winemaking processes.

“Our intention is to incorporate this into our winery master planning going forward,” says Sandy.

The team are still assessing the emission reductions, but if the plan is fully employed across the company’s 15 Valley winery – the company’s largest – in Marlborough, they would see about a 300tCO2e reduction per year in winery emissions.

Challenge accepted

The main challenge for Indevin when they decided to seek greater efficiency was information on the current and preferred conditions. Sandy says the team had a lot of unanswered questions before they started the process. He said it was hard to even know where to start.

“What do we do first and what options are available? Then what processes exist to analyse the options identified?” says Sandy, “The solution to which is to seek expert advice.”

Another factor was Indevin coming together with Villa Maria. “We represent close to 20% of the industry and have legacy sites and processes that are all slightly different. Our overarching winery has seen changes because of the growth and all sorts of other challenges,” says Sandy.

They also needed more information. Indevin Project Engineer Roger Gray says the team began by building a production model for their wineries. “We wanted to figure out how big the winery could get and within that, two things happened. One is if we want to make the winery big, it’s a chance to make it more efficient, so I started to look into the energy space to make it more efficient.

“We couldn’t initially do an ETP because we couldn’t answer a lot of the questions as we didn’t measure our energy use – up until then no one was interested in our utility metrics, just in our product metrics.’’


But once the team had the energy transition plan and understood where the challenges were, it made sense to “throw a stone that can hit two ponds” and tackle decarbonising the winery as it expanded.

There have been plenty of learnings along the way.

“This process has shown the importance of correctly capturing project scope and scale to avoid a ‘lean to’ build mentality of just dealing with immediate needs,” says Sandy. “As well as taking specific consideration of energy and emissions related to capex project scopes.”

A low carbon winemaking future

Energy efficiency is an important consideration when expanding a winery operation. “It’s capital intensive and has a long life (50+ years). Technology selection is key and requires careful consideration and commitment to industry best practice around process efficiency, including automation, energy efficiency and emissions minimisation,” says Sandy.

In general, the biggest opportunities for wineries to increase their energy efficiency include improvements in refrigeration systems and the use of heat recovery (improved glycol control and pipe insulation); reducing diesel use in the vineyards through technology such as electric vehicles and electric frost fans; and installing solar PV to reduce emissions.  

Once fully implemented, the Indevin team has the potential to see significant cost benefits and increased energy-efficiency in their winery expansion project.

“Good examples within the Paddock Area ETP and the full process scoping have identified the chiller and control system benefits up front,” says Sandy. This includes using less energy and lowering emissions, fewer chiller starts, more efficient chiller run time and heat recovery. The team can also understand performance criteria and can either right size capex spends or implement well considered staging with expansion steps.

Balancing energy efficiency with quality production

“We are developing options for the business. We want it to be efficient and if there is a choice, we want to go for the one that offers the low carbon options,” says Sandy. “Electrification and decarbonisation is currently the best business option. It always comes back to the business, and we look for ways to grow our business, so it supports our sustainable business model and our decarbonisation goals.”

Sandy said Indevin had the advantage of initially looking at this from a purely engineering perspective.

“The cost of expanding the winery is phenomenal and these assets have a long life. We are making choices that people are going to have to live with for decades, so we need to make the right ones.”

Roger agrees saying that ultimately the team are addressing two issues – optimising efficiency and decarbonising. “To get the full benefits, the winery should make other process changes – you don’t necessarily have to – but it will increase efficiency. We could ignore the process and just decarbonise what we have got, be at a higher energy consumption level and forgo the efficiency gain that’s also connected with this. It makes better sense to reduce energy output at the same time.”

“That’s the fantastic part of this. There is a very clear way of doing it, but the business still has to make… process decisions about the equipment they are going to use so it can’t be done as a straight fuel switch where it is like for like.”

Sharing the learnings

A big part of this journey has been talking to and receiving advice from others in the industry.

Sandy says this type of business to business learning has been invaluable and plans to pay it forward as they continue on their decarbonisation pathway.

“We are prepared to demonstrate this sort of thing back to industry. Having an energy checklist and an energy transition plan is a brilliant place to start. If there is something that the industry can learn from this, we are thrilled to share it.”

Roger says their journey is becoming almost like an engineering guideline for wineries.

“We have learnt a lot through this process. We think we can almost completely decarbonise for process heat but if you had asked us a couple of years ago, we would have said maybe 50% was possible. Now we would say you should be able to decarbonise up to 95% for a typical Marlborough winery.”

One thing that was particularly important to the team was how to balance the need for energy efficiency while maintaining the quality and consistency of their wine production. This included an ongoing monitoring and process review, and a consideration of different technology which could lead to process assumption change with benefits of better chiller efficiency and lower energy cost.

Advice for businesses

Indevin’s advice for businesses starting on their decarbonisation journey:

  • Stay informed – keep an open dialogue with industry peers, industry bodies and suppliers.
  • Seek external advice - the best ideas and initiatives can come from working together with third parties like consultants and agencies like EECA to understand what’s new and what support may be available.
  • Choose solid projects - resources are scarce so initiatives should be at a meaningful scale and focused in the right areas i.e. energy efficient tech is preferred over lower cost.
  • Understand your needs - maintain logical approach to your business model and know the current vs desired state. This also surfaces assumptions and allows numeric communication across the business.
  • Keep it simple - frame large projects in everyday language to ensure understanding - problem, solution, benefit is a very useful framework for this.

The future of low emissions wine making

By encouraging collaborative, proactive solutions to sector-wide challenges, the Wine Sector Decarbonisation Pathway aims to take the learnings from others to help reduce the impact of the sector on the climate, while also reducing costs and ensuring future business continuity in a low emissions environment.

The next phase for Indevin is to build on the winery through development of a decarbonisation road map for the entire organisation, including a plan to triage the specific projects that need to be undertaken.

Sandy says the team are working with an energy efficiency consultancy who have been tasked with developing a framework for decarbonisation. “We have the green light from the wider businesses and want to make sure what we are doing aligns with our wider organisational goals. We want it to be practical – even if it is tricky, let’s line it up,” says Sandy.

The decarbonisation road map brings together how Indevin work towards wider emissions reduction targets and what it looks like from a business perspective. 

“The roadmap and spreadsheet approach works for us better than a report because it provides a list of projects with the associated emissions reduction which we can work in with our capex planning.”

EECA’s Wine Sector Decarbonisation Programme is supporting New Zealand grape growers and winemakers in their transition to a low emissions business. The pathway is also helping to futureproof against climate change and the challenges that the industry is collectively facing.