Constellation Brands has installed what it claims to be the world's largest winery solar energy system.

The US-based company said yesterday (15 January) that the system, located at its facility in Gonzales, California, will be completed in the early part of this year. Once operational, the project will produce more than 1.7m kilowatt hours of electricity per year, equating to around half of the winery's total energy requirements.

Electricity from the system will also be exported to local residential customers during the winery's non-peak use periods, Constellation said.

"The solar energy project is one of several regional initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to reducing our environmental impact and ensuring the legacy we leave for future generations is a positive one in the communities where we have a significant presence," said Rob Sands, Constellation's president and CEO.

Through partnerships with Pacific Power Management, Mitsubishi Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric, 6,358 solar panels are being installed on the roof of the main building at the Gonzales winery, located near Monterey. The company said that, through the lifetime of the system,  the project is estimated to annually reduce the facility's carbon footprint in an amount equivalent to planting 2,500 acres of trees.

Wines produced at Gonzales include Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Solaire by Robert Mondavi, Black Box and Hayman & Hill.