[caption id="attachment_42554" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Kathleen Inman and wine club member Judy Van Kirk of San Rafael, owner of a Nissan Leaf electric car, connect the vehicle at the Inman Family Winery’s solar-powered charging station."][/caption]
SANTA ROSA -- The Inman Family Winery is the first Sonoma County winery to install a privately-owned, publicly available, solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station.
The system is installed at the firm’s tasting room that opened last September at the Olivet Grange Vineyard, located at 3900 Piner Road in Santa Rosa.
Visitors coming to the winery in EV’s are encouraged to “fill up on sunshine” at no cost while visiting the estate.
While other North Bay wineries in the Napa Valley, such as Hall Wines and Clif Family Winery in St. Helena as well as Cade Winery in Angwin, have EV charging stations, they draw energy from the local electric power grid rather than from the sun.
The presence of a charging station at a winery helps offset what has become known as “range anxiety” among EV owners who are reluctant to venture far without the assurance of a charge to get them back home.
Inman Family Winery owners, Kathleen and Simon Inman, believe in adhering to a strict eco-ethics regimen in every aspect of winery operations – from EV charging and 100 percent solar power for their building energy requirements, to all-electric fork lifts, heat pumps, appliances and other systems designed to use the greenest power possible.
“I weighed the pros and cons of applying an ethical approach to benefit the land, while minimizing our carbon footprint and seeing a positive ROI in the process,” said winemaker Kathleen Inman, who also heads Inman Family Winery operations.
“Today the facts and experiences of early adopters support such a program, and while the initial cost is higher, these practices pay for themselves over time.”
She has an MBA in corporate finance and held senior positions with Coopers & Lybrand and the executive search firm, GKR Group before devoting full time to the family winery in 2002.
“As we planned to develop the 10.5-acre farm in the Russian River Valley we bought in 1999, we wanted to implement sensitive, organic viticultural practices and natural winemaking.
“Every decision was made with energy efficiency and recycling in view – including the recycling of wastewater, utilizing post-consumer recycled materials and buying local products to reduce the carbon footprint associated with trucking goods, materials and equipment from a distance.”
The ChargePoint EV charging station, made by Coulomb Technologies, Inc., of Campbell, California, was installed at Inman Family Winery at a cost of $5,000.
This system provides two levels of charge: Level 1, at 120 volts, can completely recharge a vehicle in 15 hours or less. The Level 2 setting, using 240-volts, can do the same in six to seven hours. The system can provide a partial charge for shorter durations.
A larger EV charging station, also available from Coulomb, can deliver an 80 percent charge in 45 minutes.
The EV charging station pedestal takes less than a third the space as a standard gas pump and includes a power cable with a connector that plugs into a port in front of the EV. The ChargePoint system is designed to scan most major credit cards when, and if, the Inman’s decide to assess a fee for the service.