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Keenan Winery Introduces Solar-Powered Wine

Date: 06/08/07

by Mary-Colleen Tinney
Robert Keenan Winery has released their 2006 Napa Valley Summer Blend Chardonnay, the winery's first release bearing the words "Solar Powered and Sustainably Farmed." The winery, located in the Spring Mountain district of the Napa Valley, recently completed a solar power system on their property.

The system, which was designed and whose installation was managed by San Francisco-based Sunlight Electric, will generate 100 percent of the winery's electricity needs, and each year reduces Keenan Winery's carbon footprint by more than 37 tons of CO2, equivalent to the carbon captured annually by 10 acres of forest. The 29 solar arrays used at the winery were installed on pole-top mounts along the ends of Chardonnay vine rows.

The winery currently produces about 11,000 cases of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Summer Blend Chardonnay, which retails for $22, has a production of about 500 cases. When the reds are released in October, they will also carry the "Solar Powered and Sustainably Farmed" phrase on the bottle's back label.

"What was amazing about the solar power option was that it allowed us to fulfill all of the responsibilities we have, to sustainable farming, to our customers, to our community, and to our business," said owner Michael Keenan. "It was a surprisingly compelling business investment at the same time."

According to general manager Matt Gardner, the winery expects to eventually recoup the initial financial outlay. "Considering the rebates and the amount we're saving from generating our own green power, we should make our investment back over the next eight years," said Gardner. "Over the course of the year, we should be generating as much power as we use. We're just trying to offset our usage. In addition, it makes us feel good inside. We are using a renewable power source."

The winery's recently completed solar power system is the latest illustration of a sustainable business philosophy that Michael Keenan said goes back to his father Robert, who started the vineyard in 1974. Before Robert Keenan passed away in 2006, he installed solar power for the family's home and told his son that eventually the winery should be powered by solar as well.

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