solar, salmon & sustainability

So, here’s the thing…one of the first things our consultant said to us after we started working with him was, “This land has been here a long time before you got here and it will be here a long time after you’re gone so while you have it, take good care of it.” 

Solar – As we were designing our winery, we had a decision to make as to how we would power the buildings.  We approached Fortis who gave us a quote to run the electricity from Ryegrass Road to our site.  The initial number was eye watering.  We already had an electrician on site who was just starting to get into solar systems so he suggested we take a look. The electrician, Vic Loewen, went over everything we would possibly need to power and he put together a firm quote. It wasn’t much more than Fortis was quoting us so we decided to go for it!  This supported our efforts to keep our environmental impact as low as possible and we use this system to run everything in the buildings – lights, heating and cooling, our security system, the appliances and even the chargers for our phones and computers.  Most of the year, this works great for us because our panels are on the south side of our buildings and capture every ray of sunshine available.  The sun’s energy flows into the inverter and is stored in our battery bank for us to draw on when we have cloudy days. In the winter, however, the valley can really cloud in and we have to rely on another source to power us up.  At first, we used a propane generator to help us, but last year we built a new storage building on the west side of the property. Because our new building is connected to the grid, we decided to run electricity to our winery buildings.  The generator was not as reliable as it needed to be, particularly when it got really cold out, and inevitably, it would quit at the worst possible moment.  We did, however, install solar panels on our new building as well so we are able to sell a trickle of power back to Fortis in the summer months.

What is Salmon Safe?  Just as the name implies, we are working to keep salmon safe from environmental hazards.  You may be thinking to yourself, “Are there salmon close to Here’s The Thing Vineyards?”  Yes, the Okanagan River just a few hundred meters away is spawning grounds for the migrating Sockeye salmon. Being salmon safe also refers to how we treat our property and how that helps to protect water quality in general.  We are using only organic sprays on our vineyard which not only helps protect the water but the biodiversity on our vineyard – every living organism, even the microscopic ones, help us grow healthy grapes.  Pests, mold and mildew need to be controlled but we can do this with organic sprays.  We think of it as simply as this, if we take you into our vineyard and you want to taste a grape from the vine, do we feel confident that we are not poisoning you?  Yes, and we are so confident that we let our little great nieces and nephews taste grapes directly from the vines.  We feel that having a Salmon Safe certified vineyard is another piece of “taking care of it while we have it.”

Sustainability is a word that is often used but perhaps not always correctly. Searching I found this – “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.” Used in a sentence, “…our fundamental commitment to sustainable development.” That sounds really lofty for a teeny winery but the spirit of it holds true for us – doing everything we can to take good care of this little patch of heaven and it may interest you to know that many of our neighbours are doing exactly the same thing. One last word on this because clarity is important to us: we do not claim to be an organic vineyard and our wines are not organic. The certification process is something we are looking at and planning for which is why we have chosen to take the step to use only organic sprays on our vineyard.

We feel like we are doing our best to help our planet in our own small way and we also feel we are heeding our consultant’s words by “taking good care of it while we have it”.

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