June 4, 2014
In this month's Wine Wednesday, we focus on a winery using the power of the sun not just to grow grapes, but to turn them into wine.
We head to DuCard Vineyards in Madison County, where there is plenty of green.
When you walk up to the tasting room at DuCard, you can't help but see a series of solar panels soaking up the Virginia sun.
"People always ask about it, it's a delicious irony because we are using the sun to ripen our grapes, but use sun to power the facility so it's a really nice balance," says owner Scott Elliff.
In fact, it helps balance out the power bill, all the energy collected goes through an inverter, and back into the grid.
On many days, the meter spins backwards. It's not just solar energy, the tasting room is built with reclaimed local wood, earning DuCard the title of Virginia's greenest winery when it first opened.
"When you do something from scratch, you have the opportunity to do it in a way you think is right," adds Elliff.
Green thinking that goes all the way to the bottles. When you pick one up, it might feel a bit light, but that's not because somebody snuck a glass when you weren't looking.
"Our bottles are 30% lighter which reduces our carbon footprint, but we concentrate most on what's inside," says Elliff.
In that pursuit of perfection, there is one thing that technology can't eliminate from the wine-making equation.
"The challenge always in Virginia is the weather. Ultimately we're farmers, and farmers complain about weather all the time, especially in Virginia it's a special challenge and we're lucky to get anything in a bottle," says Elliff.
DuCard usually gets around 2,000 cases of wine from it's 8 acres of grapes, and because of it's smaller size, it can focus on a more intimate experience, and a variety of vintages.
All fueled by the latest in green technology, and a true love of wine making.
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