Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
 

Editor's Letter

 

High Tech for Low Intervention

July 2011
 
by Jim Gordon
 
 
This is the seventh annual Technology Issue of Wines & Vines. Our team of writers stuffed it full of information about how to apply technology to your work whether you are a winemaker, grapegrower or wine marketer.

Two of the articles show just how dated the image of the little old vinegrower is. Remember the one who farms nobly by instinct and the seat of the pants? More and more, smart growers are applying the latest technology in their vineyards to grow better grapes that will make better wines.

Going mobile

 
VIDEO: Jim Gordon discusses vineyard technology

Vineyard managers and owners have sworn by their cell phones for years. They rarely sit in offices all day with computers and landlines nearby. Many of them figured out that the only way to keep in regular touch with their clients, crews and winemakers buying their grapes was to go mobile.

Then came the smartphone, and in what seemed like a very short time a whole new array of vineyard-management tools were available through the same device they had previously used only for conversation and text messages. In a truck, on an ATV or on foot, vineyard managers and foremen can now use their iPhones, Androids, iPads and other mobile devices to access GPS, monitor weather remotely, collect irrigation data and so on.

The cell phone and then the smartphone became so familiar and easy to use for most of us that they hardly seemed high tech at all. That familiarity could be what finally turned the tide on the use of computer technology and web-based applications in vineyards. Because the real innovation here is that you don’t have to lug the computer to the vineyard anymore to do computer-assisted vineyard management. All it takes is the phone that you already carry in your pocket, or maybe the iPad that fits in the glove box.

In the cover story, Wines & Vines senior correspondent Paul Franson details the various ways that mobile apps are changing how winegrapes are grown. We think these apps are logical, positive, time-saving and quality-enhancing products that likely give a competitive edge to those who adopt them.

Know the flow
Another article in this issue looks in depth at one specific application of vineyard technology: wireless sap-flow monitoring. David Gates, head of vineyard operations for Ridge Vineyards, is using a new measuring method at Ridge’s famous and historic Monte Bello estate vineyard near Cupertino, Calif. The purpose is to understand more thoroughly the vines’ water needs so that the minimal amount of irrigation can be used.

Gates’ specific focus was to better calculate water needs during the period after veraison and before harvest, when the health of the vine is of critical importance. As with other functions described in the cover story, this wireless water sensing can be followed on a mobile device. What’s unusual about this operation is the way the vine’s water status is monitored. Sensors strapped to four representative vines in a 5-acre block use thermocouples to help calculate how much sap is flowing, which in turn informs Ridge’s staff when the block is in a vine-water deficit. Then Gates can use his judgment and experience to add water to help the vines along.

Avoiding intervention
An observer on the outside might think that high-tech tools in the vineyard like this one mean overt intervention with the raw material for a great wine—something that might mess with the expression of terroir. But in this case, as in many similar situations, the new technology is valuable to the vineyard manager precisely because it helps him avoid intervening too much.

It’s too bad that grapegrowers and winemakers don’t brag about their use of high-tech tools like these more easily, however. Probably the marketing department tells them not to talk about machine harvesting, Flash Détente and wireless water sensing. Certainly many of their customers won’t care, but some of them will. I have been on this soapbox before. I believe that the more grapegrowers and winemakers talk about their tools, and build some awareness and appreciation among their audience, the better it will be in the long run.

Wines & Vines congratulates the early adopters of technology who are mentioned in this issue and the many others like them. We appreciate their openness in discussing the topics and sharing what they have learned with their peers.

 
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
 
SEE OTHER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN ï¿½ CURRENT COLUMN ARTICLES »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
December 2014 $776 million
3%
$7,866 million
5%
December 2013 $755 million $7,470 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
December 2014 $166 million
14%
$1,820 million
15%
December 2013 $145 million $1,576 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
December 2014 155
27%
229
14%
December 2013 122 200
     
 
MORE » Released on 01.15.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • February 5-7
     
    Cold Climate Conference
     
  • February 6
     
    Wine Market Council Research Conference, Napa Valley
     
  • February 6-7
     
    Maryland Grape and Wine Industry Conference
     
  • February 7
     
    Alsace Varieties Festival
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Pierce's Disease Assessment Vote Approaches »
 
Now that Dr. Walker has conquered PD, shall we get him working on GRBaV?
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Who's Confused About Champagne? »
 
I think Korbel is missing an opportunity to reap a public relations bonanza. They could...
Reader: Donn Rutkoff
 
Article: Wine Flash Sales Activity Still Strong »
 
Thanks for the comment. It's a good point. We have added a line to the...
Reader: Jim Gordon
 
Article: Wine Flash Sales Activity Still Strong »
 
The bar chart at the top of this article is misleading. Nowhere in the chart...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting the Effects of Wine Closures »
 
I am a few months behind on reading so I was happy to see what...
Reader: David Coffaro
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Tasting Room Manager
 Geneva, NY
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Sales Representative, ...
 Fairfield County, CT
Sales and Marketing
 Hospitality Associate
 Dayton, OR
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Sales Man...
 Orange County, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Winery Cellar Technici...
 Amherst, NH
Winemaking and Production
 Assistant Office Manag...
 Berkeley, CA
General Administration and
 Sales & Marketing For ...
 Baltimore, MD
Sales and Marketing
 Executive Wine Special...
 San Francisco, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Club Coordinator/...
 Sebastopol, CA
General Administration and
 Visitor Center Guest R...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.