We are excited to share that we have implemented two new state-of-the-art electric tractors at our estate Margarita Vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA, deepening our sustainability journey that is now 25 years strong. Built by Monarch, the MK-V model tractors are billed as “the world’s first driver-optional, data driven, and 100% electric tractor.”

When it comes to winegrowing, the word “sustainability” typically evokes environmental imagery—healthy vines, abundant cover crops and happy wildlife all thriving in a chemical-free ecosystem. But today there’s another powerful force at work in the arena of sustainability: technology. Indeed, technology is driving many of the sustainability gains that we are making in the field, from our advanced solar power systems to our wind machines used for frost control and water conservation. Enter the new tractors!

“These tractors have significant features that will undoubtedly help us lower our carbon footprint, as well as manage labor costs,” says co-owner Karl Wittstrom. “This is the future of farming.”

The MK-V tractors are powered by our two on-site solar power plants, which generate more electricity than the vineyard operation consumes. The tractors hold a charge for up to 10 hours and are highly versatile, capable of performing mowing, pre-pruning, spraying, hauling and more.

A Driverless Future

The MK-V tractors are also capable of “autonomous” driverless operation. “Technology is rapidly changing the world we live in, and artificial intelligence has now come to our farming community,” Wittstrom said.

However, operating a tractor without a human at the controls is not permitted under current OSHA regulations. For this reason, Ancient Peaks is working with Monarch to help prove the reliability and safety of this equipment. The winery is logging the operational hours of the tractors with an operator at the controls and will proceed in this manner until OSHA has enough data to change the regulations that have been in place since the 1960s.

The MK-V has no emissions and can serve as an electric generator. Onboard “WingspanAI” technology provides automated operations planning, remote fleet management, tractor performance reports, maintenance diagnostics and more. The MK-V also boasts best-in-class safety features with 360-degree cameras.

The new tractors demonstrate how innovation is an essential component of sustainability at Ancient Peaks. Indeed, technology is driving many of the gains that the winery is making in the field, from advanced solar power systems to wind machines used for frost control and water conservation.

A Model of Sustainability

Margarita Vineyard was planted in 1999 by the Robert Mondavi family as a model of sustainability on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch. In 2005, the ranch’s three ownership families assumed the vineyard’s lease, started Ancient Peaks Winery and never looked back. The winery’s practices have earned SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certification for Margarita Vineyard, a leading standard in sustainability certification.

The MK-V tractors are ultimately the latest example of how this passion for sustainability runs deep at Ancient Peaks.

“As ranchers and farmers, we believe that caring for the land is paramount to preserving our future,” says co-owner and viticulturist Doug Filipponi. “Our sustainable practices allow for resource conservation and habitat preservation, all while helping us grow wines of natural quality.”