Any seasoned vintner knows when the grapes are ready for picking — they’ve been on the vines for the right amount of time, and the temperature, humidity, and sunlight have been just right. The vintner also refers to copious notes from years of frequent walks around the vineyard, supporting the appropriate timing to harvest the grapes. Of course, for less experienced vintners, there is always the supplemental insight from the Farmers’ Almanac that has an 80% accuracy according to Country Living, which is pretty good considering how far in advance those are written.
Of course weather isn’t the only thing that impacts winemaking, there are the types of grapes, soil, and processing techniques – oh, and don’t forget that little bit of magic. So essentially the skills required for winemaking are a combination of art and science. The art will never be easy to replicate, but there should be no surprise that the science is getting easier as technology gets more sophisticated and cost-effective.
According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, advances in technology mean that today’s modern farms use robots and sensors to generate agricultural data. When combined with aerial images and GPS technology, these farms have better operational management, employee safety, and environmentally-friendly businesses.
This is not the future; this is today. If winemakers are not already using technology to improve their businesses, then that needs to change in the next few years. The addition of technology means taking what exists today, like handwritten notes, and incorporating them into clearly defined systems, processes, and data, so that vineyards can establish or improve productivity, customer service, and sales.
Using the appropriate technology means that vineyard management systems, barrel serial numbers, efficient distribution, and wine clubs can become a simple and affordable reality. Plus with the right software, the information generated from these processes will aggregate, integrate, and learn from themselves. This is how technology becomes Big Data and turns into Artificial Intelligence for the winemaking industry.
Winemakers, if your vineyard is not already technology-enabled, take some advice from the recent research done by Infor entitled The Future of the Future: Cognitive Artificial Intelligence:
Be open to ideas
Bet on the right vendor
Artificial Intelligence will be the next scientific step for winemakers of the future. It will enhance all the great things already happening at your vineyard, and it will give you more time for the fun part of your job – the magic!