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The Wine Column

Green on Red

By Stett Holbrook

WINERIES AND vineyards have a benign image of grape stomping and cool cellars, but according to Pacific Gas and Electric, California's wine industry consumes more than a third of all energy used by the state's food producers, making it the state's No. 1 food industry energy hog.

Fortunately, there are efforts to reform the winegrowers' gluttonous ways. PG&E is working with the state's wine industry to help become more energy-efficient. One of the utility company's key partners is the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance (CSWA), a San Francisco–based nonprofit that promotes the benefits of sustainable winegrowing.

Nearly 200 wineries and vineyards have participated in the organization's "sustainable winegrowing program," an effort to establish voluntary high standards of sustainable winegrowing practices and promote winegrower-to-winegrower and vintner-to-vintner education on sustainable practices such as the use of biodiesel, renewable energy and more energy-efficient wine-tank insulation.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, sustainable winegrowing program participants include Bargetto Winery in Soquel, Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards in Saratoga, Windy Oak Estates in Corralitos and Woodside Vineyards in Woodside. Bill Cooper, production manager and sales director for Cooper-Garrod, currently serves on the board of the CSWA.

Three years ago the winery installed a 17-kilowatt solar energy system that powers the tasting room, wine offices, nearby riding stable offices and riding-arena lighting. The 96 rooftop solar modules replaced the equivalent 22,000 kilowatts of energy previously bought from PG&E and will reportedly eliminate 1,140 tons of carbon dioxide emission over the system's 50-year lifespan.

Raise a glass to these green-minded wineries as they look for new ways to make great wine that's easy on the environment, too.

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