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Constellation Wines Claims Largest Solar Footprint in U.S. Wine Industry

Constellation Wines U.S. plans to invest in three new solar energy installations across California at its Clos du Bois winery in Geyserville, Ravenswood winery in Sonoma, and Estancia winery in Monterey County. These projects build on the company’s solar initiative, which began in 2009 with the inaugural installation at the Gonzales winery in Gonzales, Calif.

Approximately 17,000 solar panels, with combined solar power of 3.95 megawatt DC, will be installed at the four wineries by the end of 2010, making the initiative the largest solar footprint in the U.S. wine industry, according to the company. Constellation says this is equivalent to removing 4.5 million pounds of carbon from the atmosphere.

The solar power generated at these sites is expected to meet most if not all of the wineries’ energy needs. The systems will provide the Estancia and Ravenswood wineries with 100 percent of their annual power and 75 percent of the needs of Clos du Bois and 60 percent of Gonzales.

Constellation is working with Genesis Renewable Energy to design, install, operate, and maintain the three new installations at Clos du Bois, Ravenswood, and Estancia.

To help pay for a portion of the multi-million dollar initiative, Constellation plans to leverage the 30 percent tax incentive under the American Recovery Act and will participate in a rate incentive program made available by the California Solar Initiative, which provides significant rate incentives for solar power through Pacific Gas and Electric.

All of Constellation’s wineries and vineyards recently have been certified as part of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s 3rd party certification program. The wineries also participate in local programs such as the Sonoma Green Business program, the Napa Green program and the Fish Friendly Farming program, which certified over 1,300 acres of Constellation’s vineyards.

Several California wineries, including Foster’s Wine Estates Americas, Frog’s Leap, Jarvis Winery, Grgich, Far Niente, and Robert Keenan, have installed a number of solar systems over the past several years.

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