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Food and Beverages | Monday, March 28, 2022

Technology has made its way into every aspect of business and the wine industry is not too far behind.

Fremont, CA: Manufacturing of wine and other grape-based fermented beverages as a species started thousands of years ago. Crush the grapes, add yeast to the mixture, and let it ferment until it reaches the desired flavor and alcohol level hasn't altered much throughout the years. Recent technical advancements have altered our perceptions of winemaking. What is the impact of technology on the wine industry?

Irrigation management: The wine business is in danger of being shattered by climate change. Due to droughts in some of the world's top wine regions, growers must guarantee that their grapes receive adequate water. Vineyard owners can utilize drones to examine the state of their crop and identify the optimal times to water rather than watering constantly and perhaps drowning the vines. These drones can even read each plant's photosynthetic activity to assess its health.

Advanced processing: Much of the winemaking process used to be done by hand, but that's no longer possible when vineyards need to produce hundreds of thousands of bottles every year to keep up with demand. Compressed air is now an important aspect of the winemaking process, helping with everything from grape pressing to bottling the completed product. Large vineyards use 68 percent of their energy from compressed air, whereas small wineries use 36 percent. This technology may not appear to be significant to you, but it allows even small, privately held vineyards to stay up with consumer demand.

Yield forecast: Harvesting and processing a crop was once the sole way to determine how much wine it would generate. Vineyard owners could make projections, but with so many variables to consider — from the weather to the irrigation and fertilizer used, pests, and other problems—making an exact prediction was practically impossible. Even if sentinel species were planted around the field to try to anticipate the yield, the accuracy would only be 60 to 70 percent.Vineyard owners no longer have to guess how much a harvest will yield. Instead, they can enter the information into a computer program, which will perform all of the calculations for them. These machine learning methods can forecast a crop's yield with an accuracy of 80 to 90 percent if given enough data.

Gauging smoke contamination:A nearby brush fire can taint an entire crop with smoke, even if the vineyard does not burn. The wine made from these smoked grapes has an awful flavor. Previously, the only method to tell if a crop was ruined was to invest in costly laboratory testing, but drones can now do the same job in a fraction of the time. Because smoke-damaged vines register at a different temperature than healthy ones, vineyard owners can save the rest of the crop by merely removing the affected vines.

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