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Monday, April 10, 2017

It's just planting grapes, then pick 'em and add yeast, right?

 You think growing wine grapes and making wine is pretty simple and still like it was hundreds of years ago? I mean, you stick some vines in the ground, they grow grapes over the summer, you pick the grapes, squeeze them a bit, add yeast, and voila it's world-class wine!

There are already satellite imagery and drones used in vineyards, but it gets more technical. Following are a few excerpts from the recent Sonoma Vintage Report Conference.

  • Using lasers to map vine vigor with the goal being to minimize vineyard variation.
  • Using geostatistical modeling to analyze vineyard variations.
  • Having grape maturation tools to measure the sugar creation process in the grapes to help predict when to pick various blocks of the vineyard.
  • Next they talked about having two back-to-back years of high nitrogen in the soil (2016 and now 2017) and guessing what it might do to the grapes for the coming year.
You can see where a lot of this had to do with variations in the vineyards. The key is getting everything to ripen at the same time. Picking a vineyard where most of the grapes are ripe, but some are overripe and some other are underripe is not going to give you the best wine. Other information is used in water conservation.

Yes, there's a bit of science going into it along with the art of winemaking.

Vineyard yield modeling
image from

Info from