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Napa Winery Takes a Shine to Pinot Noir

Domaine Carneros' new facility devoted to making the varietal has solar panels and other energy savers.

September 01, 2003|Eric Risberg | Associated Press

NAPA, Calif. — In the bucolic hills of the Carneros wine country, a winery known for its sparkling wine and its 18th century-style chateau has created something unusual for the region: an understated, solar-powered and energy-efficient facility devoted to making Pinot Noir.

The 23,500-square-foot facility at Domaine Carneros was completed in June, a leap of faith at a time when the economy has been in a downturn, the wine market has been experiencing a glut and tourism has waned.

Domaine Carneros, co-owned by Champagne Taittinger of France and Kobrand Corp., began producing Pinot Noir wines about 11 years ago and now turns out 9,000 cases to 10,000 cases a year. The new facility will double output over the next 10 years.

In a region ideal for growing grapes that benefit from cooler weather, Domaine Carneros believes that the future of winemaking is in Pinot Noir.

Unlike traditional wineries, the new building's rooftop is covered with solar panels, which will provide 40% of its energy needs. Skylights and special refrigeration will also save energy.

And while other wineries have opened outlandish buildings that dominate their surroundings, this winery is tucked into a vine-covered hillside behind the chateau.

"Winemaking is in tune with nature," said Eileen Crane, president and winemaker of Domaine Carneros.

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