Constellation Wines (maker of Mondavi, Wild Horse and other big U.S. wine brands) goes solar

Pacific Power Management is building out a 1.2-megawatt solar system that will cover the winery warehouse roof for theConstellation WinesU.

Pacific Power Management is building out a 1.2-megawatt solar system that will cover the winery warehouse roof for theConstellation WinesU.S. Gonzales Winery in Monterey, Calif. The system, set to be completed by the end of 2008, is supposed to produce more than 1,700,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Here's what it looks like:

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Ultimately, 6,358 Mitsubishi 185-watt solar panels will make up the installation.

As with several other solar installations that I've seen in the past few weeks, the 170,000-square-foot project is being financed by the solar management company; Constellation will buy back the power, which is supposed to provide at least 50 percent of its total energy requirements. When the winery isn't in production, the power will be provided back to Pacific Gas & Electric's power grid.

Incidentally, I had never heard of Constellation until I started peeling back some of the brands it creates, which includes Clos du Bois, Wild Horse and various Robert Mondavi labels. So, this is a big-impact project, considering that this is, in fact, the biggest U.S. wine company by dollar volume.

The company figures it will reduce its annual carbon footprint by about 1.6 million pounds, an amount equivalent to taking 2,083 cars off the road.