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Commercial Solar Case Study, Raymond Burr Vineyard

Winery Solar Electric Installation Project Profile

winery solar panelsIn keeping with its policy of “living lightly on the land,” one of Sonoma County’s best-known boutique wineries has gone solar. Raymond Burr Vineyards chose SolarCraft to design and install their 36 kilowatt solar electric system to power operations for the premium winemaking and exotic orchids facilities. Both designed and built by SolarCraft, this solar electric system is designed to provide 100% of the winery’s annual electricity consumption for its operation in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma, CA.

The photovoltaic (PV) system will power major winery operations, including the tasting room, storage facilities, and two greenhouses. Two homes on the Dry Creek Valley property will also be run by the solar electric system, ensuring 100% of the annual electric needs for operations. Raymond Burr Vineyards received a commercial installation rebate of approximately 50% of the cost of the system and expects to save up to $11,000 per year in electrical expenses. Robert Benevides, owner of the Vineyard, says he decided to install the system to complement the Vineyard’s current environmental practices, as well as to save money on its operations costs. The system is expected to pay for itself in just over 6 years.

Benevides said the system would also help to control costs at the Vineyard. “Wineries certainly do use a lot of power,” he said. “We have to irrigate the grapes, which means during the summer we have pumps going almost continually. Our tasting room is open seven days a week, and we have power throughout the tasting room and storage facilities.

The project included an energy saving polyurethane foam roof before the solar electric system was installed. The system was installed on multiple buildings that required comprehensive electrical engineering as well as new electrical feeds.

Raymond Burr sign

System Specifications
System Size 36 kW DC
31 kW AC
Location Sonoma, CA
Solar Panel (208) Sharp 175W
Inverter (1) PV Powered 2800
(6) PV Powered 5200
Mounting System Custom
Estimated Annual kWh 45,000
Cumulative Cash Positive 6 Years

Customer Profile
The Raymond Burr Vineyard, originally founded by Robert Benevides and the actor Raymond Burr of the hit 50s television show “Ironside”, now showcases multiple award winning wines from a truly beautiful vineyard.

The grapes were planted in 1986: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and, for the proprietors, a small section of Port — the bare-root stock imported from Portugal. The vineyard is also home to Mr. Benevides’ world renowned classic orchid farm.

“I am a lifelong member of the Sierra Club, and I have always been an environmentalist. Our winery is a no-tool vineyard that is insecticide free. Solar is a great way to go and will expand our environmental portfolio. Wineries need to reduce their impact on the environment and solar is one way to do it. We want those who enjoy our wines to know they were made with green power.”
~ Robert Benevides, Owner, Raymond Burr Vineyard

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