California wineries like to say they turn sunshine into wine, but increasingly they’re are also turning sunshine into electricity. Industry titan Constellation is the latest to jump aboard the solar bandwagon, announcing new installations at three wineries in Sonoma and Monterey counties.
Ravenswood, Clos du Bois and Estancia will go solar under the Constellation plan. Together with the company’s existing solar investment at its Gonzales, Calif., winery, the expansion will give Constellation “the largest solar footprint in the U.S. wine industry”—not exactly shocking, given the company is a behemoth comprising dozens of brands that gobble up around 15 percent of the domestic wine market.
By one compilation, more than 80 California wineries are now using the sun to power operations to some extent, and that list only includes wineries from Santa Cruz north. The move to solar is several years old, but has really taken off in the past couple of years, driven by government-financed incentives. Indeed, Constellation cited incentives as “an integral part of the investment in this multi-million dollar initiative.” Specifically, the company pointed to a 30 percent tax incentive provided under the Obama stimulus, as well as the California Solar Initiative, which provides rate breaks for solar power through the utility PG&E.