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Published on May 30th, 2008 | by Shirley Siluk Gregory

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Photovoltaics, Floatovoltaics Bring Sun Power to California Vineyards

Fresh-picked grapes. (Image credit: Bob Nichols, USDA, at Wikimedia Commons, public domain (government-created document).)Here’s another reason (as if one needs a reason!) to enjoy California wines: Napa Valley wineries are adopting solar power faster than any other business sector in the state.

Among the wine-makers using solar power: Far Niente, Frog’s Leap, Fetzer, Domaine Carneros, Ridge and St. Francis, among others. According to one solar company executive, the region’s wineries are going solar 40-plus times faster than any other type of business in California.

The most innovative adoption of vineyard solar power so far is on view at Far Niente, where a system of so-called “floatovoltaics” gathers up sun energy via 1,000 pontoon-based solar panels floating on an irrigation pond. The installation, developed and installed by California’s SPG Solar, lets the winery tap into sun power without the need to panel over valuable grape-growing land.

All together, Far Niente’s solar arrays can generate up to 770 kilowatts of energy for the winery.

Frog’s Leap, an organic winery that went 100-percent solar in 2005, also takes advantage of geothermal energy. The system keeps the wine-maker’s hospitality building comfortable for visitors, no heating or A/C needed.

And don’t think California’s wine-makers are the only ones concerned about the environment and sustainability. Up in Oregon, wineries have come together to develop a new labeling system to identify wines that are “sustainable, organic and biodynamic.”

What a problem to have, huh? So many “green” wines, so little time!






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About the Author

Shirley Siluk Gregory, a transplanted Chicagoan now living in Northwest Florida, represents the progressive half of Green Options' Red, Green and Blue segment. She holds a bachelor's degree in Geological Sciences from Northwestern University but graduated in 1984, just when the market for geologists was flatter than the Florida landscape. Just as well, though: she had little interest in spending her life either in a laboratory or, heaven forbid, an oil field. So, of course, she went into journalism. After extremely low-paying but fun and educational stints at several suburban Chicago weeklies and dailies, Shirley and her then-boyfriend/now-husband Scott found themselves displaced by a media buyout and spending the next several years working as freelancers. Among their credits: The Chicago Tribune, a publication for the manufactured-housing industry, and Web Hosting Magazine, a now-defunct publication that came and went with the dotcom era. Shirley's always been concerned about nature and conservation (and an avid pack-rat, as her family can attest to), but became even more rabidly interested in the environment primarily due to two factors: the growing signs that global warming was real and threatening, and the birth of her son, Noah, in 2003. Suddenly, the prospect of a world that might not be quite as habitable in 40 or 50 years took on a whole new, and personal, meaning. Living where she lives now also helped light the fire of Shirley's environmental awareness: her hometown was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and beaten up again by Hurricane Dennis in 2005. That, and the fact that she and her family were vacationing in New Orleans until the day before Katrina -- and spent 12 hours driving home for a trip that normally takes 3 -- has made Shirley deeply appreciate how fragile our lifestyles are, and how dependent they are on sound management of natural resources and sustainable living practices. That's why she's become a passionate reader and writer about all things green and sustainable.



  • http://www.alternativeenergybase.com Submit Alternative Energy Article

    This is a great example of efficiency both the solar power and the land. I wish more businesses were thinking more of how to be more effective and use resources responsively.

  • Uncle B

    Every now and then, something good happens in the world, and it warms my heart.This is one of them. Thank You vineyards.

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