Winery Powered by the Sun
Ever since moving to the country and starting Montemaggiore almost 10 years ago, our goal has been to minimize our environmental footprint—and perhaps even improve the soils, forest, and watershed around us. We've taken steps ranging from farming without chemicals, to conserving and reusing water, to utilizing earth-friendly packaging. Energy "independence" has always been on our mind, but the timing had to be right.
When we built the winery in 2004, we designed it to be very energy efficient and to bear the load of roof-based solar panels. But the capital-intensive nature of solar power delayed the actual implementation until this past year when a combination of Federal, State, and local incentives made it all possible for us. Our Solar contractor put together a cash-flow statement for us, designed a system to generate 85% of our electrical needs, took care of all the paperwork to take advantage of various incentive programs, and broke ground on the project in May.
In July, we "plugged" in the 17KW system up at the winery (along with a 7kW system at our house) and have been watching our meter go backward ever since. Vincent even has an app on his iPhone to track our solar generation. The beauty of our solar panels is that not only are they generating electricity for us, but they are also keeping our winery cooler simply by absorbing the suns rays. So we benefit twice from solar panels!
Of course, solar power is just one step in our "environmental evolution", and now we're thinking about what to tackle next. Lise's trying to convince Vincent that the french-fry smell of bio-deisel would actually be quite pleasant when he's sitting on the tractor!