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					COVER STORY




                       Technology

                                                Highlights
                                                • Combining PDAs, GPS and GIS helps
                                                  vineyard managers see the big picture.

                                                • Aerial imaging detects small differences
                                                  in plant growth.

                                                • Wireless vineyard technology is already
                                                  a reality.

                                                • Automated lab tests are quicker and
                                                  more reliable.

                                                • Natural gas microturbines increase
                                                  energy efficiency.




22 W i n e s & V i n e s s e P T eM Be R 2007
With Traction	
                                                                                                                         TECHNOLOGY




Six	innovations	that	can	lighten	your	load
By	Thomas	Ulrich




F
tions—to save money and improve the
quality of their products—that others
in the wine industry have been slow to
embrace. Many of these innovations are
no longer just for pioneers and early
adopters, however. To expose Wines &
Vines readers to six tech tools that have
proven their usefulness, we interviewed
the people now using them.
                            orward-
                            thinking
                            winemakers
                            and vineyard
                            managers are
                            now using a
                            number of
                            technologi-
                            cal innova-
                                              tude of each test site in the vineyard. The
                                              SureHarvest software presents informa-
                                              tion much the way reference maps use
                                              translucent overlays to add layers of de-
                                              tail to the display. Together, they synchro-
                                              nize data so that the vineyard staff and
                                              the winemaker can rapidly analyze data
                                              collected in the field.
                                                The PDA , GPS, GIS combination
                                              (shown below, right) helps the vineyard
                                              management and development team
                                              establish relationships among a number
                                              of biological, chemical and cultural con-
                                              ditions in the vineyard. Team members
                                              can download a location that specifies
                                              data for an individual vine or a 5-acre
                                              block. The vineyard staff can review soil
                                                                                             Monitoring from a desktop
                                                                                             When vintners introduced computers to
                                                                                             winemaking more than two decades ago,
                                                                                             they gathered data such as Brix, pH and
                                                                                             titratable acidity. Today, a new generation
                                                                                             of winemakers collects more than isolated
                                                                                             information. These winemakers have
                                                                                             integrated computer technology into the
                                                                                             production process.




                                              type, irrigation patterns, leaf canopy,
PDA/GPS in the field                          clusters per vine and berries per cluster,
Handheld computers first appeared in the      for example, and then determine how to
vineyards a decade ago. They reported         balance these elements to produce the
data as a single entry, much like the field   highest quality grapes.
notebooks that they replaced. Today,            Eventually, they will scan all types of
these powerful tools can help vineyard        information from the vineyard directly
and winery staff develop the wide range       into the PDAs. When they return to the
of information they now collect into          winery from sampling in the field, they
a comprehensive vision for how they           will download information such as bud
should operate the winery.                    break dates, soil moisture, weight at lag
  Seven Hills Vineyard in Milton-Freewa-      phase and number of clusters per vine
ter, Ore., grows grapes for sale to premi-    into winery computers. Then Buchanan,
um wineries. This spring, Bob Buchanan,       Banek and the vineyard management and
general manager, and Chris Banek, senior      development team can analyze years of
viticulturist, handed vineyard managers       related data instead of one item at a time.
Lupe Gomez and Francisco Jimenez per-          “We have been collecting this sort of
sonal digital assistants (PDAs) equipped      information manually for a long time,”
with global positioning systems (GPS),        Buchanan says. “However, our ability to
SureHarvest’s geographical information        see the big picture was cumbersome, and
system (GIS) software and a barcode           sometimes not very clear. With timely
reader. The global positioning system is a    information now built into our (winery)
satellite-based device that allows them to    database, we can see trends and the ef-
determine the exact latitude and longi-       fects of our management decisions.”
                                                                                                      Wines & Vines s eP TeM B e R 2 0 0 7 23
COVER STORY

                                                Stephen Tebb, the winemaker at Clos       already fermenting three days ahead of
                                             LaChance in San Martin, Calif., (60,000      time. That way, I can focus on the grapes
                                             cases per year) tracks the 2007 harvest      coming in from the vineyard every day.”
                                             from the vineyard to the bottling room          His desktop computer cools and then
                                             while sitting at his desktop computer. He    warms the must contained in the fer-
                                             can manage production, even influence        mentation tanks. At first, it lowers the
                                             the flavor of the wine from an office that   temperature of the fermenting grapes.
                                             overlooks the laboratory, fermentation       As the ambient temperature drops, it
                                             tanks and aging room.                        gently heats the tank to initiate the sec-
                                               Tebb and enologist Erica O’Brien ex-       ondary fermentation.
                                             change winery and vineyard data with a          Using a portable computer, O’Brien
                                             few strokes of a computer keyboard. She      transmits the enzymatic analysis and ma-
                                             tests and he evaluates the vintage from      lic acid concentration of the must to Tebb,
                                             the moment the grapes ripen to the day       who decides how soon after the crush to
                                             that they reach the bottling room.           begin the malolactic fermentation.
                                               With the click of a mouse—not the turn        Tebb can control the temperature
                                             of a dial—he adjusts the temperature of      during fermentation to extract the most
                                             the must fermenting in a 6,000-gallon        flavor from the grapes, or retain the fruity
                                             tank. He selects an icon and then types      esters and volatile compounds that would
                                             a temperature value into a dialogue box      otherwise evaporate.
                                             that appears on his computer screen. A         “Our goal is to measure and manage as
                                             desktop PC and Logix software drive the      many variables as possible,” Tebb says,
                                             fermentation tank. The fermentation tank “then drive the production process toward
                                             is manufactured by Santa Rosa Stainless.     the style of wine we want to produce.”
                                             According to the winemaker, the PC and
                                             the fermenation tank are standard. The       Computer-enhanced sensing
                                             software requires more effort to set up.     Remote earth sensing came of age when
The Seven Hills Team views its vineyard grid    Such technology allows Tebb to keep up    NASA launched the Earth Resources
layout on this GPS monitor and uses it to
                                             with the harvest. “I can program a change    Technology Satellite or Landsat-1 on1July
                                                                          QualityStainless_Apr05 3/9/05 11:12 AM Page
guide a tractor with sub-inch accuracy.
 SpecTrellising_July03 6/4/03 12:36 PM the temperature of the must that is
                                             in Page 1                                    23, 1972. The satellite carried a multi-



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24 W i n e s & V i n e s s e P T eM B eR 2007
                                                                                                                                  TECHNOLOGY

                                            combined image into different color          The technology is sophisticated enough
                                            classifications based upon NDVI values.    to recognize small differences in plant
                                            The bands represent the photosynthetic     growth from changes in nutrition, leaf
                                            capacity of the vines compared to the      area, soil properties and irrigation pat-
                                            standard infrared wavelength.              terns. “NDVI imaging is a major driver
                                              Technicians can mathematically manip-    for winemakers and vineyard managers
                                            ulate the image to examine the differences to use scientific applications by relating
                                            among plants that absorb different levels  NDVI values to biological characteristics
                                            of red wavelengths of light. The leaves of within a vineyard block,” Hutton says.
                                            healthy growing vines reflect a low level    It is a first step toward modeling rela-
                                            of red wavelengths, and will generate a    tionships between water-holding capaci-
                                            higher value on the NDVI scale. Dormant    ties of the soil, leaf area, vine weights and
                                                  10.17.06_4.75x7.5.qxd 10/26/06 12:29 PM Page of
                                            or unhealthy vines will appear as low      lengths, percent 1 vine cover, percent of
                                            values on the NDVI scale.                  shaded area, and the crop coefficient, for




                                                                                   has
                                                                              “SureHarvest
                                                                 become a valued partner
                                                               in our viticulture program.”
                                                                              –Katey Taylor, Domaine Chandon



                                                                      “SureHarvestis a great
                                                                  addition to our operation.
  “I can program a                                                  I wish we would have
                                                                   begun using it sooner.”
    change in the                                                       –Michael Wolf Michael Wolf Vineyard Services
 temperature of the
   must three days
    ahead of time.”                                     SureHarvest for Vineyards       V.4            Better grapes. Better business.

  —Stephen Tebb, Clos LaChance                                · Mobile/offline laptop for secure and flexible access to
                                                                information anywhere, anytime.
spectral scanner that measured the change
from spring to summer vegetation across                       · Weather module redesign for faster field sensor data capture
the Great Plains region of the central                          and enhanced reporting.
U.S. Today, remote sensing has become a                       · Electronic submission of county pesticide use reports.
valuable tool for premium vintners and                        · Custom work orders with the ability to produce documents
winegrape growers to gauge the health of                        in Spanish.
their vineyards.
  Jay Hutton, owner of GrayHawk—an                            · Harvest and contract reports to manage yield estimates,
NDVI imaging, remote sensing and aerial                         contract requirements and harvest production.
photography company, maps vineyards                           · Multi-category reporting to evaluate the impact of farming
in Napa, Sonoma and Santa Ynez valleys                          practices on quality and efficiency.
as well as the North Coast of California
from a single-engine Cessna equipped
with GPS navigation. He creates NDVI
(Normalized Difference Vegetation Index)
images from 10,000 feet with a digital
multi-spectral camera and special com-
puter programs for transforming reflec-
tion image data into NDVI imagery.                           Vineyard Management Software Implementation Support Professional Services
  The computer calculates pixel values
for the red wave band and the near                                     Call   831.477.7797 or visit www.sureharvest.com
infrared band images. It divides the
                                                                                                            Wines & Vines s eP Te M B eR 2 0 0 7 25
COVER STORY




 Jay Hutton at GrayHawk creates Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) images with a digital, multi-spectral camera and computer
 programs to pinpoint unhealthy or dormant vines from an altitude of 10,000 feet. AgCode_Nov06 10/9/06 12:49 PM Page 1




26 W i n e s & V i n e s s e P T eM B eR 2007
                                                                          pwe_89x250_WinesVines.qxd                          01.08.2007        15:09 Uhr       Seite 1
                                                                                                                                              TECHNOLOGY

example. The technology permits vineyard managers to track
irrigation, mulching, mowing, tilling, disease and differential
harvesting for each sub-block in the vineyard.
 “NDVI imaging can help vineyard managers fine-tune irrigation
patterns to bring blocks to a stress level that peaks for a particu-
lar site and help winemakers choose which sub-blocks of grapes            www.prowein.com
to blend,” Hutton says. An NDVI block image, an infrared image
and a grayscale image cost $6-10 per acre from GrayHawk.

Wireless technology
Scheid Vineyards, a Central Coast grower in Salinas, Calif., and
producer of 5,000 cases of wine a year, installed five computer-
controlled weather stations in its vineyards after years of gather-
ing weather data by hand.
  The weather stations are part of Scheid’s vineyard-wide
wireless network that continuously transmits vineyard data
to company computers every 15 minutes. With the click of a
mouse, winemakers can access timely information about specific
vineyard blocks and vines via handheld computers or wireless                                              To Another Great Year
laptops. They can view information about weather conditions,
the percentage of sugar in ripening vines, soil moisture, vine
stress and irrigation profiles, for example.
  The network also includes solar-powered video cameras that
can help winemakers evaluate the overall condition of the vine-                                                                      For trade visitors only
yard. They can watch irrigation water drip from emitters, evalu-
ate the canopy, or zoom in on an individual vine, leaf or berry.
  The 80-mile span of the broadband network allows a manager
in the field to review a crop report from a laptop computer, write
a work order and hand it off to the crew.




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                                                                                      Düsseldorf, Germany
                                                                                      Internationale Trade Fair for Wine and Spirits


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                                                                                       industry:
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                                                                                          31,639 visitors from 51 countries*
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                                                                                       *statistics ProWein 2007

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 Weather stations at Monterey County’s Scheid Vineyards are now com-       e-mail: info@mdna.com                  Official Airline
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 puter controlled, eliminating the need to gather weather data by hand.


                                                                                                                      Wines & Vines s eP T eM B eR 2 0 0 7 27
COVER STORY

                                                                                                 Wireless access to the scale allows the
                                                                                               vineyard manager to review the weight
                                                                                               of each lot of grapes as it arrives from
                                                                                               the vineyard. The scale identifies each lot
                                                                                               by bar code. It automatically labels the
                                                                                               grapes with a weight tag and transmits
                                                                                               the information to a company computer.
                                                                                                 Samples from each lot undergo a fully
                                                                                               automated analysis for Brix, pH and TA,
                                                                                               which is sent to an information screen,
                                                                                               reviewed by a technician and released to
                                                                                               the database. The winemaker can assess
                                                                                               the quality of the harvested grapes before
                                                                                               they reach the winery.

                                                                                               Laboratory analysis
                                                                                               In the winery and the vineyard, 21st-cen-
                                                                                               tury technology gives the winemaker and
                                                                                               vineyard manager the information they
                                                                                               need to take control of the way they grow,
                                                                                               ferment, bottle and age the 2007 vintage.
                                                                                                 Scott Shirley, associate winemaker for
                                                                                               the Hess Collection Winery in Napa,
                                                                                               Calif., (25,000 cases per year) draws on
                                                                                               information from three scientific instru-
                                                                                               ments to evaluate the fermentation of the
                                                                                               must and the potential of the finished
                                                                                               wine. He uses an autotitrator, near infra-
 A video camera and microwave transceiver antenna are powered by a solar panel; mounted atop
 Elypsis_Apr06.qxtcontrolled and3:52 PM from Scheid’s VitWatch website.
  a trailer, the set-up is 12/7/05 monitored Page 1
                                                                                               red spectrometer and automated spectro-
                                                                                               photometer to measure concentrations
                                                                                               of alcohol, nitrogen, sugar and titratable
                                                                                               acidity (TA).
                                                                                                 He measures the amount of nitrogen in
                                                                                               the must and sugars (glucose and fruc-
                                                                                               tose) or malic acid concentrations in the
                                                                                               wine with the automated spectrophotom-
                                                                                               eter. The nitrogen level helps him deter-
                                                                                               mine what nutrient to add. The malic acid
                                                                                               concentration allows him to track the
                                         The total software                                    secondary fermentation.
                                                                                                 Once the fermentation is complete, he
                                         solution for wineries                                 measures the alcohol concentration with
                                                                                               the near infrared spectrometer and the
                                         • Eliminate duplicate data entry                      TA and pH with an autotitrator. They
                                         • Improve tasting room and                            become part of a chemical profile that
                                            wine club management                               follows the barrel of wine throughout the
                                                                                               aging process.
                                         • Increase sales
                                                                                                “These machines automate a process
                                         • Manage allocations and trade accounts               that was time-consuming and not nearly
                                         • Control accounting and reporting                    as accurate,” Shirley says. “Technology
                                                                                               makes the analyses quicker and more reli-
                                            • Streamline winery operations
                                                                                               able. I can make more informed decisions
                                                                                               that ultimately result in better wine.”
                                               One source...total solution
                                               Check our website for upcoming seminars.        Power generation
                                                                                               The price of fuel and the external costs
                                                                                               of growing and fermenting grapes have
                                                                                               winemakers reconsidering their impact on
                                                                                               the planet. Some winemakers have chosen
             Elypsis, Inc. • 1957 Sierra Ave, Napa, CA 94558 • (707) 257-8912                  to farm closer to the earth. Others, like
                         elypsisinfo@elypsis.com • www.elypsis.com
                                                                                               Chuck McMinn, have recalculated the
                                                                                               energy equation.
28 W i n e s & V i n e s s e P Te MB eR 2007
                                                  Ganau_Jan07   11/7/06   4:26 PM   Page 1
                                                                                                                TECHNOLOGY

  McMinn, former product manager at
Intel and founder of Covad Communica-
tions, electrified his vineyards and winery
when he purchased Vineyard 29 and Aida
vineyards and built the mountain winery
two miles north of St. Helena during the
early part of this century.
  An information-age pioneer, McMinn
wired the vineyard with moisture sensors
and remotely operating weather stations,
and his fermentation tanks with comput-
er-controlled thermostats. “Technology
does make a difference,” he says, “be-
cause we are better able to measure and
control the process to make consistently
high quality wine.”
  To cool and humidify the cellar and
generate electricity to drive production,
McMinn installed the first cogeneration
plant at a U.S. winery. Two microturbines
burn natural gas producing 120 kilowatts
of power and heat, a waste product that
converts water to steam, boosting energy
efficiency from 30% to 82% and reduc-
ing the probability of losing power during
the crush.

 “Technology does
 make a difference,
  because we are
    better able to
measure and control
   the process to
 make consistently
 high-quality wine.”
    —Chuck McMinn, Vineyard 29

  With his power plant seven times less
polluting than conventional technol-
ogy, and half the cost per kilowatt hour,
cogeneration makes sense for the winery
and the community. “The investment will
pay for itself in five years,” McMinn says.
The cost of the cogeneration plant was
$600,000, less a $120,000 rebate from a
state Public Utility Commission fund.

  Based in Silicon Valley, Thomas Ulrich has
written news, features and advertising copy for
Time magazine, the Christian Science Moni-
tor and The New York Times. He was a senior
writer for Hewlett-Packard for many years and
was a contributing editor for Sun Micro-
systems. He teaches journalism at San Jose
State University. Contact him through edit@
winesandvines.com.
                                                                                             Wines & Vines s eP T eM B eR 2 0 0 7 29

				
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