With recent shortages, the need for alternative energy in California is urgent and the vintners are realizing that the sun not only ripens their grapes, but it provides power to their wineries as well. Shafer Vineyards, one of Napa Valley’s most prestigious wineries (its Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most sought-after wines) became the first winery to switch to 100% solar power back in December. Additionally, Shafer has moved away from chemical-based farming and more towards organic farming in their vineyards – and many in Wine Country have noticed…The initial outlay for the solar project was about $980,000 for a solar array that produces 129 kilowatts per hour during peak sun (this amount is enough to power about 20 to 30 homes). And what’s better is that the winery gets about half of that dollar amount back due to a grant from the state. But even better beyond that, the nearly maintenance-free system should pay for itself within eight years. Doug Shafer, president of Shafer Vineyards, noticed the $600-$700 electric bill dropped to about $24.
Rodney Strong Vineyards installed a 766-kilowatt system, thought to be the largest solar winery array in the world, and it provides 40% of the 600,000 Sonoma County wineries electricity needs. When Domaine Carneros unveiled their 120-kilowatt system it was the first in California to power a winemaking facility instead of offices. Frog’s Leap Winery (shown above) installed a 160-kilowatt system back in February and hosted a solar seminar in March that drew 35 to 40 representatives from different wineries who are now considering making the switch.
With help from the state, technology improvements and role models such as these, what seems like relatively small steps will have a huge amount of impact for the state of California and its future. Via ::Wine Spectator (subscription), ::Shafer Vineyards and ::Frog's Leap