Solar Energy Comes To Sonoma Winery

It’s getting to be where you could put together an extensive wine list drawn entirely from wineries that use solar power. An Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as an alternative to all those Napa Cabs? Why, certainly – there’s the one from Hafner Vineyard, which has been using solar power since 2002 and just quadrupled the size of its system.

Not that Hafner is boasting about this. It’s a small, family-owned winery – not a giant like Constellation, whose solar efforts we told you about last fall – and it probably hasn’t issued a press release in all the years since it began making wine in 1971. But Solar Craft, the company that took care of the Hafner expansion, did.

solar power, winery, Hafner Vineyards, Solar Craft

image via Solar Craft

According to the company, the Hafner project consisted of 1,298 square feet of Sharp 235-watt solar panels. An interesting thing here is that, according to Solar Craft, unlike conventional photovoltaic systems, each pair of these panels is linked to a microinverter. Because of that, even if some of the panels are shaded, the ones that aren’t can continue to produce power, boosting overall efficiency. These microinverters were manufactured right in Sonoma County at Enphase Energy, which goes into some detail about the technology here on its website.

With all that, Solar Craft calculates the Hafner system will yield 21,233 kilowatt hours of energy each year, meeting nearly a third of the winery’s needs.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.