Crain Hill vineyard becomes first solar-powered winery in Mich.

Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyard

Crain Hill vineyard becomes first solar-powered winery in Mich.While vintners have been going solar all over the country for the last several years, The Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyard is the first vineyard in Michigan to be fully solar powered.

The 45-acre vineyard and wine tasting facility is now net-zero, producing just as much electricity as it consumes, according to a press release about the project.

The Brothers worked with local Leenlanau Solar of Northpoint, Mich. And the company opted to install three AllSun Trackers from AllEarth Renewables in Vermont.

AllSun has been aggressively expanding its dealer network and only this year spread beyond New England to distribute its GPS-enabled solar tracking devices.

The three solar trackers at the Michigan vineyard comprise an 18.7-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that will generate 30,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

“We are thrilled to have our vineyard go solar,” said Robert Brengman, one of the brothers who owns the vineyard. “Not only will this project save us money, but we now have the first net zero, completely solar powered winery in the region.”

Wines and Vines magazine reported earlier this year that vineyards all over the country are increasingly turning to solar to power their wine making and distributing operations.

Particularly in California, where electric rates are high and so are incentives for solar installations, vineyards are increasingly turning to the sun, according to the article.

Running a vineyard can be a power-intensive operation and sustainability is always important for a forward-looking agricultural enterprise.

Of course, given the importance recently placed on environmental and sustainability issues, the solar installation could also be a marketing tool for the Brengman Brothers.

“Our customers love our wine,” he said, “and now they can love even more how we make it.”

 The brothers give regular vineyard tours and have an onsite wine tasting facility.

In addition to being the first fully solar-powered vineyard in Michigan, the Brengman brothers have the largest solar tracking array in the states. The trackers produce about 45 percent more electricity than the same solar panels would produce if they were part of a fixed rooftop solar installation, according to the release.

The payback period for the installation will be about seven years.

Leenlanau is one of AllSun’s newest distributors and the company owner, Tom Gallery, said he looks forward to installing more of the trackers in Michigan.

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