New Mexico’s desert climate and terrain set the stage for a unique bouquet of agricultural commodities. Produce, forestry products, free-range beef, nuts, hay and more all thrive in the seemingly endless sunshine.
The state is even gaining recognition as a wine region. This is due in part to the vision of one French family looking to expand their wine-making legacy to the United States.
The Gruet family has been making champagne in Bethon, France since the early 1950s. In 1984, the family established the Gruet Winery in Albuquerque, where the ideal climate, soil and elevation provide grapes for 26 sparkling and still wines. Today, Gruet’s expanding winery produces 250,000 cases of the beverage every year.
As wine making equipment is added and demand increases, Gruet is taking steps to raise production while maintaining the quality linked to the brand’s trademark.
“Our production capacity was limited by our ability to clean the stainless steel tanks in a timely manner,” said Larry Rodriguez, Gruet production supervisor and maintenance manager. “The faster we can sanitize the tanks between batches, the more wine we can produce. Our supply of hot water was the biggest factor holding us back. We need about 1,200 gallons of hot water each day.”
With 43 wine vats, or holding tanks, cleaning consumed a lot of time and even more hot water. The tanks range in size from 10,000 to 60,000 gallons. Until this summer, the sanitation process included the use of an electric “hot cart” or mobile hot water production system. The unit was capable of providing only 10 GPM of 160 degree water, meaning that it took Gruet employees the better part of two days to sanitize a single tank.
In desperate need of more hot water capacity, but unable to sacrifice any floor space in the winery, Gruet contacted Bosque Heating and Cooling, a local company they’d used on various occasion in the past.
Bosque’s 29 employees share the founders’ vision of becoming the best mechanical company in Albuquerque, not the biggest, and to make the city a better place to live each day.
“We assembled a group of people that have a heart for this city,” said Carlos Griego, CEO at Bosque. “To see a flourishing local winery here is fantastic, and we’ve been honored to serve them on multiple occasions.”
Meetings between Bosque and Gruet included discussions about volume water heaters and tankless water heaters. The latter was chosen for two main reasons; redundancy and physical space within the building. Navien NPE-240S condensing tankless water heaters were selected due to Bosque’s familiarity with the product line.
Over a two week period, Bosque designed the new hot water system with Jordan Mahboub, of RepNet, and Dave Modica, with Winsupply of Albuquerque. The goal was to supply at least 40 GPM at 170F.
“You have a lot of choices in tankless water heaters,” said Griego. “We’ve used Navien since the day we founded the company. They’ve always offered tons of support, and so has Winsupply. I know I can call Dave any time, day or night.”
The hot water demand and the request for full redundancy required 12 Navien tankless water heaters be installed. The NPE-240S is a 199,900 BTUH condensind tankless water heater that features dual stainless steel heat exchangers, a 10-to-1 turndown ratio, and efficiencies up to 95 percent.
Beginning in 2019, the 12-unit system was installed on an elevated catwalk in the filtering room. This kept the water heaters off the floor and out of harm’s way, but also allows Gruet to utilize the space under the system for wine filtration equipment.
The water heaters are installed in two rows, back to back, and common vented. Navien’s Ready-Link manifold system was used to simplify the installation and save space, which helped reduce the size of the custom fabricated catwalk.
The Ready-Link Manifold System provides everything required for a multi-unit installation, including manifolds for water and gas, racks for floor mounting, valves, connections and flexible gas lines. It also allows maintenance personnel to isolate gas and water from one unit while the others remain in service.
Bosque installed more than 5,000 feet of hot water distribution piping as part of the project. The large hot water line is recirculated constantly, keeping hot water at all five points of use. Long hoses descend from the hot water line for convenient use at five different points of use.
“We sell about half a dozen Navien NPE tankless water heaters each week. Multiple-unit installations are very common on commercial jobs like this one, so being able to cascade the units is a big advantage. You simply run Navien’s cascade cable from one unit to the next. The cascading feature, the rack and the manifold system make an installation like this one a breeze,” said Griego.
The system came online in September, two months after the project started. Gruet now has full redundancy. Bosque’s system can sustain 80 GPM of 170F water with all the NPE units running, or full redundancy of the design load.
“Getting and keeping the water up to the correct temperature is critical for us. We’ve seen a tremendous improvement since the first day these came online. We’re able to sanitize the tanks much faster and more thoroughly. The new Navien system even allows us to use new, larger wine filters. We can now filter a tank of wine in six hours, versus the 14 hours it used to take. Our electric bill has fallen off notably, and we’re not dragging a big power cord behind a hot cart to clean tanks,” Rodriguez said.
“Bosque has been tremendous,” continued Rodriguez. “They’re available to answer any questions I have, and their customer service is second to none. They’ve never failed us.”
According to Griego, the ability to deliver outstanding systems starts with product selection and customer support.
“The NPE line of tankless water heaters from Navien is amazing. Good products sell themselves, but it helps that the pricing on these systems is good,” he explained. “In our industry, product support matters more than the product. I need that support in order to care for my customers, and Navien, RepNet and Winsupply have always been there when we needed them.”
“We want to improve the community around us, and we do so by supporting local charities and investing in the businesses around us,” said Griego. All of that happens on the back end. On the front end, long term relationships are the key to all our success. We’re looking 10, 15, or 20 years down the road. We’re building long term customers. In order to do that we have to provide quality service and quality product.”