Let the Sun Shine on Wine

I was in a meeting today talking to a client about the foot print the wine industry leaves on the environment.  More often than not the media carries stories about a winery that planted illegally on a hillside or a winery that didn’t put into place sufficient erosion controls and allowed a large portion of a river or stream to be jammed up with silt and mud. What you don’t hear too much is the effort, the really leading edge effort, wineries often make with regard to environmental protection and restoration.

The move of wineries toward using solar power as explained in an article in the Capital Press out of Oregon is exactly the kind of thing the wine industry should be looking at. The installation of solar power at a winery, while expensive up front, is extraordinarily cost efficient in the long run.

"According to PowerLight Solar Co.’s president, Dan Shugar, the 766 kw solar electric on-site generation system at Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg, Calif., is the largest solar array in the wine industry. It generates enough electricity during the daytime to power almost 800 homes, and provides a significant portion of the winery’s power needs. It’s projected to cut the vineyard’s energy use by 45 percent and annual electricity costs by 50 percent."

The cost to install this system was less than $2 million after rebates and tax breaks and is estimated to pay for itself in less than 10 years.

In addition to Rodney Strong, Domaine Carneros in Napa, Ridge Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Quiviera Winery in Healdsburg have all made a commitment to solar power.

It seems to this writer that that nearly anything that helps cuts consumption of oil as well as other dirty forms of energy is among the patriotic things a citizen can do. Our reliance on oil gets us into some very dangerous situations as a nation. Yet, using and generating alternative forms of energy such as solar also turns out to be good business.

Posted In: Wine Business


2 Responses

  1. Anonymous - July 6, 2005

    Good post Tom!

  2. Alder - July 7, 2005

    A couple of months ago Shafer Vineyards in Napa announced themselves as the first California winery to be completely off the grid. They’re now not only running on 100% solar power, they’re selling energy back to PG&E.

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