When the sun shines at our estate Margarita Vineyard, it not only energizes our vines and ripens our fruit—it powers our entire vineyard operation.

Indeed, our four solar installations at Santa Margarita Ranch generate more electricity than we consume to run our pumps and operate our workshop at Margarita Vineyard. In fact, our solar generation on the ranch exceeds the vineyard’s energy consumption by approximately 30 percent.

Power to the People

The solar power generated at the ranch is fed into the Pacific Gas & Electric grid to help the utility serve customers during periods of peak consumption. It also frees us up to run our pumps during the daytime, which makes it easier for us to locate and fix irrigation leaks for the sake of water conservation.

“For starters, it just feels good to reduce our carbon footprint, produce renewable energy and provide power to the community when it’s needed most,” says viticulturist and co-owner Doug Filipponi. “Additionally, the economics of solar power actually work for us—it’s more cost-efficient in the long run. So it’s a win-win.”

Our solar power initiatives are not limited to the vineyard—our winery in Paso Robles is also outfitted with a solar plant. During the daytime, this plant produces more energy than the winery operations consume. Then, during nighttime operations, we draw down on that excess. “At the winery, it’s a match—we generally produce as much energy as we consume.”

He adds, “We average more than 300 days of sun per year in Paso Robles, which makes solar a real winner across the board.”

Vineyard Manager Jaime Muniz in the solar field

Vineyard Manager Jaime Muniz in the solar field

Future Proofing

The solar plants at Margarita Vineyard belong to a larger sustainability commitment that combines high technology with low-tech solutions.

On the high-tech side, we have pumps with variable frequency drives that require less electricity; multifunction tractors that reduce vineyard passes and carbon emissions; and wind machines that are used for frost protection.

On the low-tech side, we have “leaky fences” and wildlife corridors that allow native animals to freely roam; owl boxes and raptor perches that encourage avian activity for rodent control; and goats used for vegetation management as an alternative to herbicides.

All of these efforts can be viewed as a metaphor for Santa Margarita Ranch. We are steeped in heritage and tradition, but we are also always innovating and thinking ahead.

Sustainability is what bridges this entire experience. It honors our past, and it preserves our future. And given the success of our solar initiatives, the future looks bright.