California Winery Becomes First in State to Earn LEED-Gold Certification

California Winery Becomes First in State to Earn LEED-Gold Certification

With solar power, radiant floors and other eco-friendly building elements, Hall Wines' St. Helena winery has been certified at the LEED-Gold level, one of a growing number of vineyards and wineries that are greening their operations.
Hall announced on Thursday that it received the green building rating. The St. Helena winery, completed last fall, is one of Hall's two winemaking facilities in California's Napa Valley. (The other is in Rutherford and was completed in 2005.) The grounds in St. Helena are the site of the historic Napa Valley Cooperative Winery, a key winemaking facility for the region during the last century.

Hall Wines owner and vintner Kathryn Hall and President Mike Reynolds built the new winery as a state-of-the-art facility for ultra-premium wine production. Their operation already incorporated Earth-friendly elements, such as organically farmed grapes and tractors that use biodiesel fuel, so designing a new winery according to green building standards was a natural progression, Reynolds says in a company video.

In addition to heat radiant floors and a solar energy system that provides 35 percent of the energy needed to power the site, the winery uses low-flow water outlets that enable the facility to cut consumption by 40 percent.

More than 10 percent of the materials used to build the winery were sourced within 500 miles of the site, and more than 10 percent of construction materials also were manufactured with recycled content.

The winery is the first in California to be certified at the gold level of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. The rating is the second highest possible of four, ranging from basic certification to platinum level.

The Sokol Blosser Winery in Oregon was the first in the U.S. to receive LEED certification; it earned a silver rating in 2002. In 2006, Stoller Vineyards and Winery, also in Oregon, achieved the first gold rating for a U.S. winery.

The wine industry has stepped up its efforts to become more environmentally responsible in the past decade. In California, an industry group published its first report measuring the level of sustainable practices among vintners and growers in the state in 2004.

The growing efforts include changing packaging and bottling to reduce the amount of materials used and lighten the weight for shipment. Use of solar power also is on the upswing. However, many firms are wary of touting their efforts for fear of being accused of greenwashing, according to a survey last fall conducted by Professor Robert Smiley, director of wine studies at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.

Images courtesy of Hall Wines.