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Lodi vintners on vanguard of eco-friendly innovation

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Posted: Saturday, January 9, 2010 12:00 am

"Waste not, want" not is more than just an adage to Lodi winemakers.

For the past several years, vintners around town have made a conscious effort to reduce their energy consumption through more advanced farming techniques, conservation efforts and state-of-the-art technology. Here is what some local winemakers and winery owners had to say about their efforts to reduce their energy usage and water consumption.

Ryan Leeman, winemaker, Van Ruiten Winery


Ryan Leeman

We installed solar panels in December 2008. It's a 50-kilowatt system and it replaced about 40 percent of our electricity. The federal subsidies are making it fairly reasonable, and so are the tax credits and rebates.

We did it because we were sure electrical prices were going to continue going up. We have also replaced light fixtures in our tasting room with more efficient ones. I also pay attention when I buy motors for pumps to look for ones that are efficient.

The solar panels are very reliable. When we first looked at them, it was estimated that 33 to 35 percent of our energy would come from them, and we are closer to 40 percent. The only issue with them has been theft. We have been broken into twice and several panels have been stolen. Each panel costs $1,500, and in the biggest robbery we lost 40. We have a total of 224 panels. We use the power for our vineyard and tasting room.

We are expanding the warehouse and we designed a roofing system to slope that will contain more solar panels. By the end of 2011 or 2012, we will get 100 percent of our energy from solar. It will power the winery and the tasting room.

Rodney Schatz, CEO, Peltier Station


Rodney Schatz

We have used solar electricity since we built the complex in 2002. I think we were the first in the area. We don't get enough solar power to cover our needs, but it's a start. A few years ago, we started using solar power for water heating, and it's been pretty effective. However, it needs to be expanded.

From a pure efficiency standpoint, we are saving money and we are doing everything in our power to use less water. Our stormwater and wash water is contained in a lined pond and used to irrigate our vineyards. We also use less water than most because we don't have a lot of barrel storage. Cleaning out barrels is a process that burns through energy and hot water. It takes us about a gallon-and-a-half of water to produce a gallon of wine.

David Phillips, president, Michael-David


David Phillips

We clean our barrels with an Ozone system that cuts our water use in half. Ozone combined with hot water helps kill bacteria and sterilize barrels. We also capture our wastewater and truck it to White Slough.

We also work with PG&E to put foam insulation on all of our stainless steel wine tanks to keep them colder and cut down on energy use.

Right now we are looking at solar panels and wind turbines as well. With wind turbines, we're thinking of starting off with one and seeing how it works. It would be nice to become energy self-sufficient, but it takes baby steps. We are waiting on government subsidies to get a little a better.

David Lucas, owner, Lucas Winery


David Lucas

We are farming organically, which is more expensive than conventional farming, but a fun journey. The winery was designed to be energy-efficient. It's heavily-insulated and we use an underground drip system for irrigation, so there is no loss from evaporation.

Solar is the neat part for us. PG&E pays back a third of the cost, and we get accelerated depreciation from the government. The last third is paid by the energy savings. It doesn't cost you a thing and it works, even on a day like today (Friday).

We are generating half a kilowatt even though it is cloudy and rainy. The winery is closed, so we aren't using refrigeration, and we are generating enough electricity to power the computers and lights in the office.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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3 comments:

  • posted at 9:57 am on Sun, Jan 10, 2010.

    Posts:

    dogsforyou i understand that that there are many winerys in lodi but lodi is one of the best regions for growing grapes and making wine, its a wine town.

     
  • posted at 11:21 am on Sat, Jan 9, 2010.

    Posts:

    Just what the area needs, another half a dozen winerys. Just like, OH no, not another Mexican restaurant.

     
  • posted at 4:45 am on Sat, Jan 9, 2010.

    Posts:

    Nice article Jordan. You should really look into the LangeTwins Winery here in town if you are interested in cutting edge green technology. They are certified sustainable, certified Lodi rules, their winery and vineyards are covered (literally) in solar panels. This is a family dedicated to protecting the environment and giving back to the community of Lodi and definitely deserve mention alongside the other great local wineries listed above. And no I'm not a member of the family, just a big fan of their wines and values. Thanks!

     

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