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Wineries Buy RECs Through Facebook Application

Iron Horse Vineyards, Girard Winery, Windsor Vineyards and Windsor Sonoma Vineyards in Sonoma County and Napa Valley have launched an innovative campaign on Facebook to generate awareness about renewable energy and provide a way for Facebook's 90 million users to actively participate in motivating wineries to go green. San Francisco-based Village Green Energy created the Facebook application, named "Green My Vino," which launched on August 6.

"Implementing renewable energy is something that people want to have happen, and by participating on Facebook, the users can actually see change occur. It is a unique opportunity to witness and participate in companies going green," said John Garn, a sustainability consultant who worked on developing the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing workbook for the California Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

The application enables Facebook users to give each other free online gifts worth One Minute, Five Minutes, and Ten Minutes of renewable energy. For each gift, Village Green will purchase the equivalent amount of renewable energy on the user's behalf.

The wineries take turns stepping forward as certain gift giving milestones are achieved. Iron Horse Vineyards went first and agreed to power their entire operation with renewable energy when Facebook friends gifted each other with 10,000 minutes of solar and wind power.

"It's like a petition with a guaranteed outcome from participation. If Facebook users get behind this effort, they know they can make a change," said Joy Sterling, CEO of Iron Horse. "For us, it's an incentive to incorporate green energy in our sustainability strategies."

In the first week, enough Facebook users participated to earn more than 50,000 minutes of renewable energy.  As a result, all four of the founding wineries will convert to renewable energy. More than 650 consumers are participating in the program thru their Facebook accounts. The next step, according to the founders, is to get more wineries participating in the program. Girard Winery, Windsor Vineyards, and Windsor Sonoma Vineyards are lined up to take over with each new milestone.

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