Green Wine: Vineyards Add Solar Power

The wine industry is seeing a lot of green these days—green energy. Several wineries in California’s Napa Valley are taking advantage of the state’s high quotient of sunny days by installing solar panels to mitigate their electricity costs.

Doug Shafer, owner of Shafer Vineyards in Napa, installed his panels in 2004. "These panels are supposed to last 20 to 30 years, and they’re supposed to pay for themselves after eight or nine," he says. "It’s almost like we had to do it."

Daryl Sattui of V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, California had 34-kilowatt panels installed on his 12,500 square-foot warehouse this spring. "Even if they didn’t pay back sooner," he says, "I’d still get them, because it’s not good what we’re doing to our environment."

At Fetzer Vineyards in Hopland, California, photovoltaics provide 75 percent of the power for the administration building. And the entire operation is run on 100 percent green power. With the help of Natural Logic, Fetzer assessed its greenhouse gas impacts from electricity and reduced them to zero.

"I was shocked to hear that two-thirds of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels," Shafer adds. "By installing the solar panels, now we have clean power!" The owners agree that renewable energy has been just another step in adhering to a conscientious philosophy. "We have been very sustainable, using sustainable and organic methods since 1989," says Shafer. "Solar just seemed to go with what we’re all about."

CONTACT: Fetzer Vineyards,; Shafer Vineyards,; V. Sattui Winery, —Rachel Anderson