Small Sonoma Winery Wins Big Environmental Award

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Dan Gustafson, 707.363.0963,

Small Sonoma Winery Wins Big Environmental Award

High-end Cab producer’s MicroGrid garners Governor’s honor


Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery has received California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA).


The small, highly acclaimed Sonoma producer of first-growth Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon was recognized for “Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities,” one of five categories of the annual award administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and presented in Sacramento.


Click on the map above for an interactive tour of this project.

The GEELA program honors individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.


“This year’s GEELA recipients are demonstrating exceptional leadership in addressing some of our most significant environmental challenges,” said Matthew Rodriguez, the state’s Secretary for Environmental Protection. “Whether it’s fighting climate change, conserving our water supplies or reducing waste, they inspire us with their creative and collaborative approaches. Their success expands our view of what is possible. Collectively, they are proving that healthy environment is inextricably linked with a vibrant economy.”


Stone Edge Farm is the 16-acre residence of Mac and Leslie McQuown. The farm produces organically grown wine grapes, over 100 varieties of heirloom vegetables, fruit, olives, herbs, flowers, eggs, and honey. Two other organic estate vineyards, Silver Cloud and Mt. Pisgah, contribute fruit from the hillsides of the Mayacamas Mountains to the winery’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon and “Surround,” a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for early drinkability.


Stone Edge is also a self-proclaimed “demonstration farm for what is possible,” at the cutting edge of soil, water, air and energy conservation. Cover crops and extensive composting ensure soil and plant health, and monitoring technologies have cut water use in half, but the most dramatic results in air and energy conservation have come from the Stone Edge Farm MicroGrid (SEFMG).


To demonstrate how far below zero carbon emissions the farm could go, and to establish clean, economical energy independence, over the past four years the McQuowns and Wooster Engineering developed the MicroGrid. This open source project stores electricity from solar panels in seven different battery technologies as well as in the form of hydrogen gas. The hydrogen is stored until needed, either to make electricity in fuel cell hives or to power fuel cell cars. The marginal cost of the hydrogen is zero, and the by-product of its use is pure water.


“When the farm underwent a precautionary evacuation during the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma, the MicroGrid “islanded,” or ran independently from the utility grid,” according to Craig Wooster, SEFMG project manager and general contractor. “So the farm continued to operate smoothly, including powering irrigation pumps, while surrounded by power outages for over a week, monitored from afar by cell phone.”


Wooster accepted the GEELA award along with five interns currently working on the SEFMG. Since the project’s inception, 55 paid interns from a wide array of colleges and universities have participated in its development.


Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery is a partnership begun in 2004 by Mac McQuown with Phil Coturri, pioneer organic viticulturist, and Jeff Baker, veteran winemaker previously at Mayacamas and Carmenet Wineries.


McQuown led a team, including five future Nobel laureates in economics, who created the first stock index fund in 1970, and he is co-founder of six highly successful financial service companies. A lifelong fine wine collector, McQuown also co-founded the Chalone Wine Group in 1970 and Carmenet Winery (now Repris) in 1980.


A widely known environmentalist and philanthropist, McQuown sits on advisory councils of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the Esalen Institute’s “Track Two,” an Institute for Citizen Diplomacy. 

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