Photo: Burrowing Owl's Jim Wyse (photo courtesy of Burrowing Owl Winery)
election in the United States may have put the Paris Accord on climate change
into some trouble.
dragging by a state is no excuse for the rest of us to drag our feet as well.
On that score, I must pay tribute to the way that the Jim Wyse and his family
at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery continue to lighten the winery’s environmental footprint
while making excellent wines.
notes below on six of the winery’s most recent releases.
I have also
gone to the winery’s website and I am reproducing Burrowing Owl’s commendable
work with solar energy over the last 10 years.
The Use of
Solar Energy at Burrowing Owl: An Alternative, Renewable Energy Source
Okanagan valley is one of Canada’s best locations for capturing perpetual,
green energy from the sun and converting into either heat or electricity. In
2016 Burrowing Owl is moving forward with a major commitment to photovoltaic
(PV or electrical) solar panels, that will produce clean/green electricity
efficiently for the next 25 years.
ago, Burrowing Owl winery made its first foray into renewable solar energy
panels to produce hot water, a commodity that wineries use in large quantities
for barrel washing and other cellar-related cleansing functions. During the
hottest summer months, our hot-water solar panels actually produce more hot
water than we can use or store, so any excess heat is “dumped” into our
swimming pool to the delight of our Guest House patrons.
existing solar panels currently produce the equivalent of 48,000 kWh
(kilowatt-hours) annually, and offset CO2 emissions of approximately 12,300 Kg
(13.6 tons) annually.
last couple of years, like flat-screen TVs, the price of solar panels has
plummeted as world-wide acceptance of the technology takes hold. Perhaps
because of the abundance of hydro-electricity in this province, and the low
cost of electricity here, the incentive to move to solar electric alternatives
lags far behind the rest of the world, despite the significantly reduced
up-front installation cost of recent years.
Burrowing Owl will be installing three sizable solar electric systems in
conjunction with the new construction that is currently underway at the winery
(July 2016) which will ultimately increase the size of our cellar by 7,500 sq
expansion at the northern end of the winery has 3,350 sq. ft. of open roof-top
space. This area will be blanketed by 70 solar panels, each producing
310-volts of electricity. In total these 70 panels are expected to
produce 25,770 kWh/year, while offsetting approximately 13,825 Kg (15.2 tons)
of CO2 emissions annually.
Lot Shade Structure:
centre of our parking area is a landscaped “island” where 12 cars would
normally park. By the late fall of 2016, we hope to have designed and installed
a protective cover over these 12 parking spaces that will consist of a roof
that provides shade and protection from rain, and will support 220 solar
panels. These panels will generate 80,500 kWh/year and will offset CO2
emissions of 43,175 Kg (47.6 tons).
winery’s main warehouse is located in Oliver, and currently is also undergoing
expansion so that in the end it will contain 45,000 sf of
heated/air-conditioned and secure space. In spite of rigorous wall and ceiling
insulation, the average electrical power usage is approximately 65,000
As part of
the new construction work, 161 solar panels will be installed on the
south-facing portion of the roof that will generate almost exactly our annual
usage (65,000 kWh/year) and reduce carbon emissions by 34,900 Kg (38.4 tons).
Since the energy produced will match the energy used, this facility will have a “zero
carbon footprint”, probably the first such claim to be made in our region by
Car Charging Stations
demonstration of our support for electrically powered automobiles, in 2016,
Burrowing Owl will be installing four charging stations in the parking area for
the use of our visitors and staff.
Burrowing Owl took its first step into renewable energy with an investment into
solar hot water panels.
step in 2016 will be to install three separate clusters of solar electric
panels totalling 451 panels that will produce a total of 171,200
kWh/year off the grid, forever.
By the end
of 2016, the total contribution of solar energy at Burrowing Owl from all
sources, will be the equivalent of 220,000 kWh/year, which will offset
carbon emissions by 115 tons/year. These are large numbers, and both of which
we are very proud.
notes on the wines.
Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2014 ($25). This restrained and elegant
wine begins with buttery, citrus aromas leading to flavours of citrus and stone
fruit, with subtle notes of oak. Sixty percent of the wine was fermented in
oak, mostly French, of which 30% was new. 91.
Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2014 ($30). The wine begins with aromas of
cherry and strawberry. On the palate, the fruit flavours unfold layer after
layer, with notes of cherry, blackberry and spice. The velvet texture completes
the personality of a very pretty wine. 91.
Burrowing Owl Syrah 2014 ($40). The wine begins with aromas
of ripe, dark fruit – plum and black cherry – with floral notes, perhaps
reflecting the four percent co-fermented Viognier in the blend. It is rich and
juicy on the palate, with a smoky hint on the finish. 92.
Burrowing Owl Merlot 2013 ($30). Dark in colour, the wine
begins with ar0mas of black currant and blueberry. On the palate, the fruit is
ripe and intense – black cherry, black currant, mulberry – but also vibrant,
with spicy notes on the finish. The texture is firm. 92.
Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
($35). This wine
begins with aromas of black cherry and vanilla. On the palate, there is a core
of sweet fruit (cherry, black currant) with a hint of eucalyptus. There is
savoury fruit on the finish. The long ripe tannins give the wine a polished
texture. It is drinking well now but also will age well for 10 years. 92.
Burrowing Owl Athene 2013 ($38). This is 52% Syrah and 48%
Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented together. It is generous on the palate, with
layers of fruit – plum, blueberry and black cherry – with chocolate, coffee and
tobacco on the finish. The fullness comes from the Syrah and the backbone from
the Cabernet. A delicious wine. 93.