The secret to cultivating perfectly ripe and crisp grapes in a sprawling vineyard is timing and the right amount of water — not too much and not too little. Columbine Vineyards grows, packs and ships more than 15 varieties of red, black and green table grapes from California’s San Joaquin Valley, where it began four generations ago in 1926.
“As we have grown, we have looked for even more efficient ways to do business,” said John Carter, facility manager at Columbine Vineyards. “To continue to be profitable, we need to pursue every avenue.”
Columbine Vineyards worked closely with Southern California Edison to develop sustainable solutions for their expanding company, including a new cold storage facility that spans 200,000 ft2. To reduce electricity use and their carbon footprint, the company participated in Savings By Design, a program that offers incentives to encourage high performance, nonresidential building design and construction.
By installing energy-efficient features — including improved insulation levels, aggressive refrigeration and fan controls, high efficiency light fixtures and motion sensors — during the construction of its new cold storage facility, the company received approximately $129,000 in incentives. They also saw an annual savings of 957,000 kWhr — equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions reductions of nearly 674,000 lb/yr.
“It helped us save money and make the project more energy efficient than it would have been otherwise,” said Carter.
The historic drought in California has brought more focus to the different technologies that let farmers have more control over water distribution to get a better yield of crops.
Columbine Vineyards added variable-frequency drives on two water pumps, lowering the pumping cost per acre-foot for water delivered to its fields and saving more than $44,000 in incentives for their upgrades.