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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!