Researchers have recently made a discovery in winegrape pomace that could make the byproduct even more valuable in the secondary market. A team of food scientists at the University of California, Davis have found that winegrape waste contains oligosaccharides, which have potentially health-enhancing properties. Graduate Student Researcher in the Barile Lab at UC Davis, Amanda Sinrod said their research is an important step in fully understanding the value that winegrape residue can provide.
“We found that grapes, particularly chardonnay marc, contain an abundant variety of oligosaccharides which we have very high hopes for in addition to extremely high levels of a variety of phenolics with known health benefits from previous work,” said Sinrod. “We are very hopeful that this can add value to what is currently a waste product to get it back into the food industry and hopefully help improve human health.”
The research team was able to identify the oligosaccharides through partnering with the Wang Lab at UC Davis. Sinrod noted that very little research had previously been done on oligosaccharides in grapes. Oligosaccharides can be found in a variety of plant and animal tissues and have significant potential for improving gut health. The discovery further supports the other beneficial compounds found in winegrape pomace. A few companies have already started using winegrape residue in a variety of products, creating a small but growing market for a waste product from wineries.
“There is a burgeoning market for this grape marc as a potentially functional food ingredient,” Sinrod noted. “Our research is helping to validate and investigate why we should be utilizing grape marc and not just composting it or feeding it to animals.”
The discovery was made possible through a partnership with Jackson Family Wines and Sonomaceuticals, who provided the winegrape pomace for the research. Professor Daniela Barile said that collaborations between academia and the agricultural industry are critical. Bringing the two groups together helps to identify applicable research avenues. “It’s really important because they keep us on our toes. They keep us to what’s relevant in the real world.” Barile noted.
Research into oligosaccharides found in winegrape pomace will continue. Sinrod said that they have only just hit the tip of the iceberg in their knowledge about grape marc oligosaccharides. The next areas of research include investigating ways to naturally increase the amount of oligosaccharides in grapes and clarifying the potential health benefits. “We are really trying to find every single piece of the puzzle to put together to figure out what is in these grapes, what can potentially feed gut bacteria, and help make this such a valuable food ingredient,” Sinrod noted.