Sonoma vineyard carves out an ‘island’ of energy independence

Stone Edge Farm’s microgrid helped guard the grapes during California wildfires last fall

Much of California’s wine country died on the vine last fall as wildfires raged through Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

One 16-acre vineyard, though, survived by going off the grid.

Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, in Sonoma, has spent the past four years developing a microgrid to establish clean, economical energy independence.

“When the farm underwent a precautionary evacuation during the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma, the MicroGrid ‘islanded,’ or ran independently from the utility grid,” Craig Wooster, project manager of the vineyard’s microgrid, recently told Microgrid Knowledge.

“So the farm continued to operate smoothly, including powering irrigation pumps, while surrounded by power outages for over a week, monitored from afar by cell phone.”

In January, Stone Edge Farm was given California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), for its ongoing sustainable practices.

The vineyard’s microgrid project uses hydrogen gas and solar panels to store electricity. Stone Edge also uses cover crops, composting practices and monitoring technologies to cut water use in half.

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