Have you ever considered the ecological footprint of the wine in your glass during happy hour? Many large-scale wineries strain the environment through their use of chemical pesticides and high water consumption. If you are an environmentally conscious wine lover, it’s not always easy to find sustainable wines. As the awareness spreads, however, organic farming methods and solar wineries are starting to reduce the carbon footprint of many wines.
I thought I’d share some information about the solar winery trend in case you want to keep your eye out for any of these brands. While reducing the carbon footprint of wine won’t save the planet, it’s certainly a great way to raise a glass in celebration!
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Solar Wineries Make Financial Sense!
Energy and water costs in states like California have gone up big time. With 500 million gallons of wine produced there annually, those fuel costs can snowball. How does solar power help create green wineries? With climate instability increasing and the spike in fuel costs, a solar powered winery makes perfect sense. Solar technology has looked darn good in the last decade and there are more tax breaks available, meaning solar power is choice for cost-effective sustainability.
Here’s the economic thinking: It’s great for the environment, and from a marketing standpoint, it’s a huge draw for the growing population of eco-conscious consumers. The very nature of a winery depends on wide open and sunny geography. This is the ideal location for solar panels to use that sunshine to create a less expensive harvest with a lower carbon footprint.
California Is a Solar Winery Hot Spot
With its sunny skies and ideal climate, California has become a hot spot for solar wineries. If you’re looking for one to support, whether it’s for your next vacation or your next grocery store purchase, here are three to consider:
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- Shafer Vineyards became the first winery in the S. to switch to 100-percent solar power in 2004. And according to Shafer Vineyards, they didn’t stop there. In 2008 they built a second solar array to power the irrigation system that waters the 50 acres of grapevines surrounding the winery. On sunny days they can produce more than 200 kW of electrical power. That’s enough to meet the energy needs of approximately 160 homes.
- Castoro Cellars offers a solar-powered Summer Concert Series. Yes, a concert series. The Castoro Cellars sustainability page boasts their commitment to solar energy as well as their desire to reduce their carbon footprint in as many ways as possible. From solar-powered concerts to sustainable agriculture techniques and recycling, this solar winery is a literal rockstar in reducing its ecological footprint.
- Far Niente uses “Floatovoltaics” to power their winery. Floatovoltaics are an alternative to conventional, land-based solar installations for places where land access is limited. The Far Niente winery was the world’s first large-scale floatovoltaic system and was installed in 2011. A floating solar farm provides green energy while also reducing evaporation rates of the body of water on which it’s housed.
Oregon Promotes Their Sustainable Wineries With a Tour
While California may be one of the most popular places for solar-powered wineries, other states are also jumping on board. Oregon encouraged wine lovers to visit a few of its solar wineries by joining in on their recent solar winery tour. Solar Oregon offered tours of three local solar-powered wineries, which included glimpses into the solar arrays and vineyards as well as wine tastings and lunch. This tour is just one way Solar Oregon is working to promote solar energy in the state and raise awareness of the role it plays to the Oregon wine industry.
The Solar Winery Trend Move East
The West Coast is definitely the center of the solar wine trend, however, it is gaining in popularity throughout the U.S. From Michigan to New York, more and more wineries are looking to the sun to power their vineyards. Although no list of these champions currently exists, Lisa Mattson from Jordan Vineyard & Winery started a Solar-Powered Wineries group on Facebook. She is trying to create the first comprehensive listing of solar wineries in the country. The list currently includes 114 wineries as of July 2012. Only wineries that use at least 50 percent solar energy can be included.
More Sustainable Wine Brands
Sustainable wine is determined by more than just their use of solar energy. Keep a handy list of green wine producers with you the next time you shop. Make green choices for your next happy hour!
- Jackson Family Wines are certified under the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) and Sustainability in Practice (SIP) programs, as well as Low Input Viticulture & Enology (LIVE).
- Sunset Hills Vineyard installed 245 solar panels, supplying 100 percent of the company’s electrical needs.
- Snoqualmie Vineyards is Washington’s largest certified organic vineyard.
- Parducci Sustainable Red Wine: Parducci is known for its sustainable practices and top-notch varieties.
Sustainable Wine Tips for Everyone
The solar winery trend is becoming more popular in the States, making eco-friendly wines readily available to U.S.’s wine enthusiasts. That’s great news if you’re wondering how (or if) your drinking habits are affecting the world around you. Even if you can’t find one of these wines in a store near you, you can certainly still reduce the carbon footprint of ANY wine with these easy tips:
- The bulk of a wine’s carbon footprint comes through transportation methods. Choose local whenever you can.
- Look for a pub or brewery that allows you to fill your own wine growler. We have one near us with several wine varieties on tap.
- Recycle your wine bottles. It’s a great way to reduce your trash output.
- Look for organic wines. While there are many factors that affect the carbon footprint of wine, chemical fertilizers and pesticides play a huge part.
- Try making your own wine. This will cut back considerably on the ecological footprint of your favorite blend. Its a frugal green living tip I am particularly fond of! Our last batch of mead (honey wine) was delicious!
Wine Bottle Crafts for a More Sustainable Wine
Making wine bottle crafts is a great way to upcycle wine bottles. Check out my post on how to cut a wine bottle in half and start getting creative. Need more craft ideas for old wine bottles? Check out a few of these:
From a reduction in their environmental footprint to massive financial savings, many wineries are beginning to see the appeal of solar energy. Want to support this growing trend? Vote with your dollar on your next shopping trip. Raise a glass at happy hour, filled with solar-generated wine, and toast to a more sustainable future.
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.