Red Caboose Winery, a family owned business in Meridian, Texas, was recently selected as a recipient of a USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grant.  A $15,617 grant is being used to help lower the energy costs of running the rural winery that produces 10,000 cases of wine annually.

Gary and Evan McKibben, father and son owners of the winery, purchased and installed a photovoltaic system that will enable them to have a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year.  A winery is an ideal rural business for cogenerating electricity because of the peak demand July through August.  The remainder of the year electrical demand is low so excess electricity is fed to the grid to be used at a later date.

“I have been working on this project for more than four years, it was part of the original design, and thanks to the help of USDA, it has become reality,” said Gary McKibben.  “This funding will further allow Red Caboose Winery to grow without the burden of higher overhead expenses.”

Since breaking ground in 2005, Red Caboose Winery has become the most sustainable winery in Texas and the only winery that uses 100 percent geothermal heating and cooling and collects all its rainwater.  They also recycle all of their barrels and compost all waste.  Concepts of environmental sustainability are not new to owner Gary McKibben.  An architect by trade, he has designed sustainable buildings for years and has been contracted to design several other wineries in Texas that also use sustainable practices.

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies and energy audits.

To find out how USDA Energy programs can help your farm, ranch or business, click here.

By Johnny Smith, USDA Rural Development Area Director, and Gayle Cargo, USDA Rural Development Public Information Coordinator