Web Exclusive: Winemaker takes an all-green approach to his wines

Web Exclusive

(CNN) -  One obstacle to small businesses going green can be the expense of new energy-efficient equipment, a major investment especially in an economy that's still a little shaky.  But when you make your livelihood off of the land, you may feel more inclined to find natural ways to give something back.  Now a Maryland winemaker is taking things full circle.

Rolling hills and winding vines are at the core of the Linganore Winecellars' success.  So it only makes sense to winemaker Anthony Aellen, to give something back.


"We have been "green" before green has been green," says Anthony Aellen.

It's been more evolution than revolution for Aellen -- gradual changes, many barely perceptible to visitors. The most visible sign is a sun-tracking solar panel that powers an electric car charging station.  The vineyards are nurtured with a natural mushroom compost, instead of chemical fertilizers.  "I've eliminated that, I've increased the health of my soil, I've increased the health of my plant, which makes better fruit, which makes better wine," says Aellen.

Two years ago, the winery moved to 100% wind power -- without any wind turbines blocking the view.  Aellen purchases renewable energy through a third party, similar to the way most businesses purchase electricity. When a tornado ripped the roof off of the production room in 2011, Aellen saw the light and rebuilt with skylights.

"I haven't needed lights in here.  We haven't used the electric lights in this room since April of 2011," says Aellen.

That same premise of using what already exists also goes for underground storage. "The rock wall to your left is about three feet thick, and it's a bank barn, so there's all earth behind here.

So this area stays naturally cold, and this is why we kept it as a barrel room," says Aellen.  No refrigeration required.  "All of the things that we've just seen, does it put a better glass of wine on this bar?" "We've polled over 400 medals since 1992, so I'm not complaining" 

It's an approach Aellen hopes other winemakers will follow, giving back to land that gives so much to them.




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