Belle Fiore Becomes the First Winery in Southern Oregon Powered 100% by Solar Panels | Community

ASHLAND, Ore — The local winery went solar-powered in early September.

Purelight Power has installed more than 500 solar panels on the cellar roof.

“People don’t always realize it, but grapes and wines use solar energy to grow and thrive,” said Belle Fiore owner and founder Edwin Kerwin.

The company generates over 250 kilowatts of energy for its winemaking facilities and tasting room.

Kerwin says it’s also a great way to help the overall taste of wine.

“We specifically pull the leaves from the bottom of the vines to let the sun hit the grapes, which helps the ripening and optical characteristics of the wine.”

Each panel helps to generate the desired amount of solar rays from each solar panel.

“We have about 20 percent of our panels on the south-facing portion of the roof,” Kerwin said. “And about 65% of our panels facing west.”

Installing these panels has also reduced energy costs for the company as a whole.

“Not only a great way to make our vineyard beautiful and use the sun that’s wasted right now bouncing off our rooftops,” Kerwin said. “But it’s also a smart business investment to help us reduce our energy costs.”

Belle Fiore is also the first winery to plant vines in 2007.

Elisha A. Tilghman