Bill Powers was the owner and founder of Badger Mountain Vineyard in Kennewick, Wash. The Washington wine hall of famer died in 2014. The 73-acre vineyard is certified organic, and the production building in the background is topped with solar panels. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)
KENNEWICK, Wash. – In a sense, every day is Earth Day at the organic Badger Mountain Vineyard and solar-powered Powers Winery, but Monday brings something special as the Columbia Valley property stages a Renewable Energy Farm Walk.
It is a public event that also will serve as a living tribute to the vision and groundbreaking work by the late Bill Powers. His son Greg continues to lead the vineyard and the wine program, and he’ll be a part of the afternoon event along with head winemaker Jose Mendoza.
“It’s a way to promote what we – as a company – are about,” Greg Powers told Great Northwest Wine. “The big focus of this event is on solar energy, but we’ll also talk about the organic growing of our grapes. These are things that we believe – as human beings – are the best ways to do things.”
Tilth Producers of Washington and Northwest SEED are organizing the event, which is the latest in a series. The environmentally conscious groups will lead the farm walk, which includes a tour of Powers’ solar energy system, Badger Mountain Vineyard and a wine tasting.
There is no charge, but those who pre-registrater will receive lunch. The program begins at noon and ends at 3 p.m.
Legacy of Powers begins with viticulture
Badger Mountain Vineyard wines are made with organically grown grapes and without the addition of sulfites. (Photo courtesy of Powers Winery)
In 1982, Bill Powers established his vineyard along the shoulders of Badger Mountain in the Tri-Cities. As the nearby Rancho Reata housing development grew, the Oklahoma-born Powers worried about pesticides he was using. His research and work led him to farming his 72-acre vineyard 100 percent organically in 1988. Two years later, Badger Mountain Vineyard was certified organic, making it among the first in the Pacific Northwest.
Along the way, father and son created two wine brands, Badger Mountain Vineyard and Powers. The Badger Mountain tier is made with certified organic grapes and without adding sulfites. Its acceptance is the marketplace makes it one of Washington’s largest family-owned brands at 45,000 cases, much of it going to stores such as PCC Natural Markets and Whole Foods.
The Powers label remains one of Washington’s most respected, and its heritage using conventionally farmed grapes includes being one of the founding partners in renowned Champoux Vineyards. Production for the Powers brand stands at about 25,000 cases.
Powers Winery installs solar array in 2011
Badger Mountain Vineyard is in Kennewick, Wash., and packages some of its organic, no-sulfite-added wines in boxes rather than bottles. (Photo courtesy of Badger Mountain Vineyard)
Badger Mountain Vineyard uses no chemical insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers, and there’s an environmental approach to the production facility, too.
In the summer of 2011, Powers installed 162 Sanyo photovoltaic panels that span across the 2,200 square feet of roof over the barrel room. At that time, the system had a potential of 35 kilo watts and supplied 18 percent of the winery’s electricity. Cost was $200,000, but the project qualified for grants. Combined with energy being sold back to the grid, the winery’s solar energy system penciled out to have paid for itself last year.
When it comes to carbon footprint, Powers estimated a lifetime savings of 845 tons of carbon dioxide production – the equivalent of 1.7 million automobile miles.
Along the way, Powers also developed biodiesel program that transforms discarded cooking oil into fuel for winery vehicles. Badger Mountain Vineyard also was among the first in the region to use natural compost teas.
Renewable Energy Farm Walk lineup
Badger Mountain Vineyard produces bag-in-the-box organic wines called Pure Red and Pure White, and the line is available in high-end grocers. (Photo courtesy of Powers Winery)
Monday’s farm walk is sponsored through an Environmental Justice Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Presenters include:
• Roni Baer, U.S. Department of Agriculture
• Monica Cisneros, Umpqua Bank
• Mia Devine, Project Manager, Northwest SEED
• Sonia Hall, Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources
• Jonathan Lewis, Hire Electric
Register online or by telephone at (206) 632-7506.
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