Chateau Montelena Winery is a stone building nearly 130 years old. But that doesn’t stop winemaker Matt Crafton and members of their leadership team from implementing cutting edge technologies that save energy, water and money while maintaining the integrity of this historic building.
The winery has both Napa Green Land and Winery certifications, but they wanted to further improve efficiency. Matt notes, “Solar is glamorous, but it’s pushing the green ‘easy’ button. Real savings come in the details.” For example, staff noticed when the tasting room is busy, it gets stuffy, requiring more air conditioning. The solution? MacroAir fans with blades shaped like airplane wings. They are low speed, quiet and circulate air efficiently, allowing Chateau Montelena to increase the thermostat 2-4 degrees in summer. “We were the first winery to have this high-tech system. Fans are $3,000 each, but with HVAC savings and customer comfort it was worth it. The fans keep the air dry as well, reducing humidity. It’s a win-win.”
Harvest presented another opportunity for conservation, when the winery simultaneously has high demand for hot water and is generating the most heat. By installing Therma-Stor heat exchangers on their hot glycol system, Chateau Montelena captures waste heat using it to reheat water. Matt says, “Well water is 52 degrees and our waste heat brings it to 110 degrees. Instead of heating water from 50 to 160 or 180 degrees, it only has to go up from 110. This was easy and low cost.”
Other measures range from simple to high-tech. Chateau Montelena found new, decorative LED filament bulbs for their chandeliers, which last for three-plus years, replacing incandescent bulbs that lasted just three months. They were the first winery to install the cutting edge DC Fast station Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers a few years ago. In 2016 they upgraded to Tesla 277 volt stations, providing the fastest Tesla charge available in the valley, along with a universal EV charging station.
The winery is also focused on water efficiency. They worked with Tule Technologies to install vineyard water sensors that measure evapotranspiration and real-time water use, providing immediate feedback on vine stress. Matt notes, “We dry farm the majority of our vines, but if we do water we know exactly how much to irrigate. The sensors are cost-effective - less than $1,000 each. If you save a gallon of water per vine in a 100-acre vineyard, you’re saving 100,000 gallons.
We are always willing to be early ‘green’ adopters. It makes better wine, a better planet and it brings more customers.