Case study: Cellar 53 Winery: Local Grapes, Wine & Energy

Published August 31, 2017

Rebecca and Scott Paschal of Cellar 53 Winery in Brush Creek, Tennessee, have been growing grapes since 2005. That’s when they bought 100 acres of multi-generational family farm land to save it from becoming a subdivision. The Paschals set out to sell grapes to Tennessee wineries and did not intend to start their own winery, but that is where the market took them. In 2014 they kept their first crop to make wine. Since then they have operated a small boutique winery, offering 10 different wines from 100% Tennessee grapes and berries, most of it grown on their 8 acre farm or by other Tennessee farmers.

Keeping it local is important to Cellar 53 Winery. They want to offer a truly Tennessee wine where the grapes are hand-picked right out of the surrounding vineyards. This “keep it local” philosophy is part of what steered the Paschals towards solar energy.

“We are trying to make our operation more self-sustaining,” says Rebecca Paschal. “One of our goals is to improve our environment and make as little impact as possible,” she says.

The 19 kilowatt solar system consists of 60 solar panels and will cover 100% of annual electricity costs at their sales and production facility. The solar system participates in TVA’s 2017 Green Power providers program.

To help pay upfront project costs, the Paschals worked with a solar loan specialist at BB&T. BB&T has funded many solar projects, so they understand the value of solar and have made the application process as simple as possible. Because of the loan, the solar project will be cash flow positive in less than one year.

Over the next 20 years, LightWave Solar estimates the system will generate nearly $80,000 in solar revenue! Taking into account project costs, federal tax incentives, the USDA grant, and loan interest, the net income will be about $60,000.

The long term viability of their farm and winery is especially important to the Paschals since they plan to pass it on to their son, Dalton, who just started in MTSU’s Fermentation Science Program.

“Growing grapes is hard work, especially during wet summers in Tennessee,” says Rebecca. “But our family is passionate about this, so we are always reinvesting in the farm and improving our operation,” she says.

So far they are pleased with their system, though it is so new that they haven’t received their first bill yet.

“We keep telling people who are interested in the system to come back towards the end of September so we can accurately report on its performance,” Rebecca says.

Cellar 53 Winery is hosting an After Harvest Party on Saturday, October 14. Meet the Paschals, check out their solar system and taste their wines, including the release of their 2017 Strawberry Wine made from locally grown strawberries.

If you are wondering how solar energy could benefit your business, farm, or home, contact LightWave Solar for a free preliminary estimate!