Constellation Brands, Inc., an international producer and marketer of beverage alcohol brands, is in the process of implementing the world’s largest winery solar energy system at its Gonzales, CA, facility. The company anticipates the project to be completed in early this year.
Once in place, the solar energy system is expected to produce more than 1.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which will provide approximately 50% of the winery’s total energy requirements. Electricity will also be exported to local residential customers during the winery’s non-peak use periods.
Through partnerships with Pacific Power Management, Mitsubishi Electric, and Pacific Gas and Electric, 6,358 solar panels are being installed on the roof of the main building at the Gonzales winery, which is located near Monterey, CA. The project, which is designed to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is estimated through the lifetime of the system to annually reduce the facility’s carbon footprint in an amount equivalent to planting 2,500 acres of trees, not driving an average automobile 25 million miles, or taking more than 2,000 automobiles off the road. Wines produced at Gonzales include Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Solaire by Robert Mondavi, Black Box and Hayman & Hill.
Other Efforts Around The Globe
In 2007, Constellation Brands implemented a global CSR platform that is based upon three pillars: sustainable business practices (environmental efforts), philanthropy (corporate giving), and social responsibility (addressing the societal impact of beverage alcohol). Founded 60 years ago, the company is based in Fairport, NY, with market presence in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
In Canada, Constellation’s Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin wineries at Niagara-on-the-Lake in southern Ontario province have partnered locally with Vandermeer Greenhouses to turn grape pomace into electrical energy rather than send it to a landfill. The methane gas produced by the decomposition of the residue, grape skins and seeds, is captured and used to generate electricity and heat for both Vandermeer operations and nearby residential customers.
In the U.K., a new bottling and warehouse facility currently under construction aims to reduce the number of shipping containers of imported pre-packaged wine from Australia, South Africa, and the Americas. The facility, which is to be commissioned in 2009, will bottle bulk wine on-site, thereby reducing the transportation carbon footprint and will further reduce the surplus of green glass used in packaging for wine shipped to the U.K.
In Australia, where water is at a premium in many regions, Constellation’s Banrock Station has been built on sound environmental principles since its founding in 1994. The Banrock Station Wine & Wetland Complex covers a 4,200 acre area on the Murray River in South Australia, and the wetland restoration program earned a listing by wetland organization, Ramsar, as one of the 1,200 Wetlands of International Importance. Over 25% of the vineyards there have been converted to subsurface irrigation which is expected to result in water savings of nearly 30% in this drought-affected area.