Practical Winery
65 Mitchell Blvd, San Rafael, CA 94903
phone: 415-453-9700 ext 102
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March/April 2009
MICRO-OXYGENATION: Innovation for the winemaking toolbox
New lighting in Shenandoah Vineyards barrel and tankroom (Plymouth, CA).
“We’ve measured the new lighting system energy use at just 68% of what the old lighting consumed,” says Eric Leber, Energy Industries Regional Manager. “System demand, or power demanded from the utility grid, was cut to 52%, just 102.9 kW annually, compared to 215.64 kW of demand by the old lighting system. We estimate that Geyser Peak will realize $103,795 in cost savings in the first year under new lighting.”
Geyser Peak’s lighting upgrade is part of a long-term energy efficiency and sustainability planning. The program gained momentum in late 2007 when the winery invited PG&E, and engineers from the Industrial Assessment Center at San Francisco State University sponsored by the U. S. Department of Energy, to perform conservation assessments and energy audits. Some outdoor tanks were insulated, and a boiler replaced.
Starting in summer 2008 and continuing into 2009, the winery initiated and is expanding night-air cooling systems for the large distribution center that serves the entire Ascentia Wine Estates portfolio.
The next upgrades that Geyser Peak is currently researching are more tank insulation, refrigeration New lighting in Shenandoah Vineyards barrel and tankroom (Plymouth, CA). upgrades, automated waste water pond aeration, reduction of water use, and a gravity-flow system for potable water. As each upgrade frees up winery funds from energy savings, Geyser Peak can proceed with more projects.
“This winery has been here since 1880,” Niderost adds. “We’re more strongly committed than ever to being a part of this community for many more years. All of the projects will be the result of long-term thinking, community spirit, and global concern.”

[Wineries interested in the San Francisco State University energy audit program can contact the Mechanical Engineering department, Dr. Ahmad Ganji, 415/338-7736, For more information on PG&E’s energy management solutions, call the Business Customer Service Center at 800/468-4743, or visit the website for winery/vineyard rebates.]
Darryl Conklin (RTI) explains, “We estimated that the units removed were over 30 years old. Had they been installed even 10 years ago, they would most likely have had a SEER rating of 8 (less efficient), and we would guess that units installed prior to 1980 would have a rating of just 6. Heat pumps with a SEER 13 rating like the newones at Shenandoah, provide a 55% energy savings compared to pumps with the SEER 8 rating.”
Occupancy sensors were installed for the lighting in the barrel rooms, and also digital thermostat timers, which run coolers only during offpeak (lower rate) electric utility hours.
A feasibility study to determine if lighting in all buildings could be replaced by LED fixtures was performed by RTI. When the expense outweighed potential savings, Shenandoah installed sensor units and T-5 fixtures instead. In the casegoods and storage warehouse, 19 T- 12 lighting fixtures were removed and replaced with 15 T-5 high-output fixtures.
“We changed all spotlights in our art gallery to CFL floods,” says owner Lee Sobon. The winery had insulated its tanks prior to this energy efficiency upgrade.
With upgrades completed, Shenandoah installed a 64-kW DC PV system (50-kW AC) in 2007, which provides nearly 100% of the winery’s power needs on an annual basis.
“Our carbon footprint has diminished to the point that we are more than carbon neutral,” Sobon reports. “This means we are eliminating more CO2 from the environment than we use.”
Geyser Peak Winery (Geyserville, CA)
Aaron Niderost (Director of Operations) and the Geyser Peak team hired Energy Industries (San Jose, CA) as the project manager to replace the lighting at the 400,000- case facility. Retrofits were completed December 31, 2008.
Geyser Peak replaced metal halide fixtures and lamps with high-bay fluorescent lighting fixtures and 772 new lamps (T5 high-output and T8) in the crush/press pad, cellars, barrel storage, warehouses, bottling room, mechanical areas and maintenance rooms. The project cost was estimated at $200,000, and with PG&E rebates of $65,000, net cost to the winery was $133,000.
“The new lighting is all on motion sensors,” Niderost reports. “As you walk through a barrel or tank room, there’s a faint tink-tink-tink sound as the areas around you light up while you move toward them. It’s a really cool effect, and more importantly, an important aspect of energy savings in the new system. The quality and intensity of the new lights is good, and the placement and pattern of lighting were carefully installed to better illuminate work areas where they are most needed.”