Wineries, of course, don’t really turn water into wine. But unless you’re the Son of God, it takes from four to six gallons of water to produce one gallon of wine. It’s not so much the actual watering of vines—grapevines are actually pretty drought-tolerant and produce better-quality grapes when stressed. It’s in the production process—washing grapes and the equipment used to process them.

Given California’s ongoing drought and the likelihood it won’t be ending anytime soon, every gallon of water is a precious thing. So students at UC Davis’s Department of Viticulture and Enology are putting technology and robotics to work to conserve as much water as possible.

Among their innovations, which will be put to the test in the Department’s own winery, are a “clean in place” system to scour the insides of fermentation tanks. Currently that cleaning is done by workers wielding a hose inside the tanks. The UC Davis CIP system is automated, with a program limiting the amount of water used to the absolute minimum for proper sanitation.

Students have also designed a robot to physically push grape peels to spots where they can then be flushed down drains, rather than using vast amounts of water to position the peels. Recycling water may be neither new nor tekkie but it’s also an important part of the UC Davis plan. Students working to determine the best way to reuse water from the wine production and winery cleaning processes to irrigate vineyards. They’ve also installed tanks around the campus to capture rainwater, which can then be used by the winery.

If everything works as hoped, that four to six gallons of water for every gallon of wine could be reduced to one for one. Can I get an “Amen”?