Since March of this year, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers has used their facility to transform alcohol donations into hand sanitizer. In August, the company partnered with Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) as part of the community’s pandemic relief effort.

In a video the CCOVI produced for Brock’s YouTube channel Debbie Inglis, the institute’s director, explained how the two partners work together to keep the community safe.

Once wine is no longer in use for research, the institute must discard the old bottles to make room in their cellar for new research material.

Around the time of the CCOVI’s annual waste product purge, Inglis read about the work the Beamsville, Ont. distillery was doing to transform locally donated wines into hand sanitizer.

She then reached out to Geoff Dillon to offer the CCOVI’s past research wines to support the cause. Dillon is a master distiller and owns the family-named distillery. This otherwise discarded wine now plays a significant role in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Thanks to this partnership,” commented Inglis in an article for BrockNews, “we can tell (inquirers) the wine is being given a second life, as well as keeping our community safe and healthy in the process.”

To date, the CCOVI has donated nearly 4,600 litres of wine. Staff members will process this former experimental beverage into about 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, said Louis Hinshelwood, a distiller at Dillon’s.

“Every little bit helps, and it is nice that (this donation is) coming from students – so literally (from) the hands and work of people (who) have been in the community for years,” Hinshelwood stated in the video.

To make sanitizer, the staff at Dillon’s distillery first distill the wine to separate the ethanol, which is the active sanitizing ingredient. They then add this ethanol to a mixture of glycerin, hydrogen peroxide and water. Lastly, the team bottles the final product for purchase or for donation to essential service workers in the Niagara region.

Despite social distancing, those who have stepped up and helped during COVID-19 may be feeling that their community is closer than ever.

Inglis is proud that the CCOVI is contributing to the local effort.

“It is wonderful to work collaboratively alongside Dillon’s and our other industry partners on this innovative solution to help our friends and neighbours in a time of need,” Inglis said in the article.

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