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Solar Powered Sanctuary in the Vines

The Central Otago sun is a key ingredient in the production of Valli Vineyards award-winning Pinot Noir and for Valli winemaker Grant Taylor and his wife Nicole tapping into this solar resource is an important part of their lifestyle on the vineyard.

Enlisting the help of solar specialists Queenstown Solar, the couple have recently transformed their converted 1930s shearing shed home in the Gibbston Valley into a solar-powered sanctuary amongst the vines.

“The conversation about switching to solar at home was sparked initially by the dilemma of powering a beer fridge at our Valli vineyard in Waitaki,” says Grant. “ Whether you farm sheep or grow grapes, there are unique challenges to face when running a rural business and ensuring the power is on, and stays on, in a remote location is definitely one of them. After a long day harvesting under the Central Otago sun, a cold beer is essential.”

Grant and Nicole were also interested in reducing their impact on the environment, reducing their energy bills and ensuring the solar powered system looked good insitu.

“I find humour in the juxtaposition of the 21st century technology – the futuristic glowing Tesla Powerwall and sleek black solar panels – against the rustic corrugate of our Central Otago shearing shed. It’s quite a contrast and makes for a beautiful aesthetic,” says Grant.

The couple are deeply connected to the land and heritage of the Gibbston Valley and when the classic Central Otago shearing shed they now call home came on the market they jumped at the opportunity to restore it.

As part of the project they say harnessing the sun to power their home sustainably was the perfect way to complete the restoration.

“We were delighted to work alongside Grant and Nicole to bring their vision for a solar powered home in this unique rural setting to life,” says Queenstown Solar general manager Paul Hollingsworth. “Assisting clients on a pathway towards self-sufficiency by enabling them to produce clean, renewable energy and reduce their energy bills is what we specialise in.”

“Our Queenstown Solar team worked with the pitch, aspect and materials of their roof to design a system that would achieve the best results. Twenty-two solar panels were installed and are now busy producing nearly 9000kWh of power per year. A Tesla battery added to their solar system allows them to store any of the day’s excess generation to be used at night.”

This tailored solution is projected to save Grant and Nicole around $2,893 a year on their energy bills. It also has the effect of fixing their energy rate until the system is paid off and starts producing free electricity in around eight years’ time.

Through the Tesla Mobile App, the couple can view their contribution towards reducing the planet’s CO2 in real-time. Their system saves nearly 1000kgs of CO2 a year, the equivalent of driving from Gibbston to Auckland five times.

“We have an amazing sense of well-being with this solar installation in our vineyard home,” says Grant. “We have had such a wonderful experience working with the Queenstown Solar crew, 100% from start to finish.”