Hells Canyon Winery is now Solar Powered!
“I think it makes sense for us, especially in Sunnyslope, because we get so much sun,” said Hadley Robertson, co-owner of Hells Canyon Winery and Zhoo Zhoo Wine.
She is part of the second-generation wave at the family-owned winery, situated on 39 acres at the corner of Chicken Dinner and Symms roads — about a mile from Lizard Butte. Her parents, Steve and Leslie Robertson, started making wine at this scenic spot in 1981. Sustainability is more than just a buzzword at the winery, which boasts a postcard-perfect view of the Snake River and looming Owyhee Mountains.
“We’ve always been into sustainable practices, so it ties into what we are doing here,” Hadley Robertson said.
“Solar is a great addition to our overall operation.”
She grew up in the vines, so to speak, and started the Zhoo Zhoo brand of wines in 2003 — along with her sisters Jocelyn and Bijou, affectionately known as the Zhoo Zhoo Girls. Without a doubt, these wine-focused sisters are rooted in the 21st century. But the concept of solar power is attractive to everyone in the family.
“I’ve always liked the idea of solar, but the younger generation really gets it. They understand the importance of things like solar,” head winemaker Steve Robertson said.
The 18.8 kilowatt photo-voltaic array system — installed by Revolusun — consists of 64 south-facing solar panels that harness the sun, even when it’s not shining. The fact that southwestern Idaho gets more than 200 cloudless days a year surely helps, and sunny days offer optimal conditions for energy production. The glistening, black panels on the edge of the property are patched into a newly installed, computerized control panel.
On The Sunnyslope
Hells Canyon vineyards were planted in 1981 on the sunny slope above the banks of the Snake River overlooking the Owyhee Mountains. Since then the Robertson family has been committed to cultivating a jewel of a vineyard, producing high-quality fruit that results in delicious, well-balanced wines. Hand-farmed and sustainably grown, Hells Canyon is the oldest wine grape vineyard in Idaho, made up of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and syrah varietals. Only estate grown grapes, fermented in traditional small oak barrels, are used in producing wines under the Hells Canyon and Zhoo Zhoo labels. Steve and his family, the Zhoo Zhoo girls, invite you to join our family by visiting the Hells Canyon estate and by partaking in our celebrated, award-winning vintages.
The climate, soil and elevation of Southern Idaho, and more specifically, a tiny area called Sunnyslope make for perfect wine country. High elevation (2,700 ft.) and the big Idaho sky provides just the right amount of sun, encouraging ripe, fruity flavors and cool nights during September encourage balanced acids and sugars.The protected Snake River Valley is influenced by marine air flowing from the Pacific along the Columbia and Snake Rivers which moderates the mountain climate enough for grapes. Ancient volcanic soils contribute to good drainage and trace elements and also allow for deep root penetration.
I had the pleasure of buying a bottle of your wine a week ago while hunting in the Hells Canyon Overlook area. We came into town for a few things and hit a little store called “Scotty’s” I believe. There against the wall was a small variety of wines and I was intrigued by your Hells Canyon Art collection series. I had never heard of your winery but I thought the label was wonderful and was interested in trying a snake river valley wine. I chose the 2010 Merlot Reserve. ...Back at our camp, surrounded by all the dirt and grime and using a red solo cup we sat by the campfire and gave it a try…..it was AMAZING!! Not that your company needs told how wonderful it was, but I just want to tell you how much we truly enjoyed it. We’ve been visiting wineries for our anniversary for a few years and this is hands down the best merlot we have ever had!