All posts filed under: Technology

High Marks for Community Colleges

Pursuing a four-year degree in enology or viticulture has been, for many students, the most direct way to gain entry into the wine industry. But that path isn’t the sole option for individuals making a career transition or those whose primary interest is acquiring the skills necessary for wine production. New certificate programs and two-year “associate of applied science” (AAS) degrees in viticulture and enology (V&E) have sprung up across the country at community colleges and state universities in New York, North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Michigan and Ohio. Many are the direct result of the Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA), a dynamic collaboration among universities and as many as 18 community colleges, state agricultural agencies and industry partners created to bring much-needed training to under-served winegrowing regions. Read full article High Marks for Community Colleges here.

For Natural Cork, Form Follows Function

For wine, as with most consumer goods, packaging is an obsession, and rightly so; its role in the commercial success of a product is undeniable. Packaging is usually the consumer’s first impression of a brand and it contributes greatly to the experience of enjoying wine. We touch a wine bottle repeatedly, often read and record the label in its entirety, gaze at it while we’re drinking and we may even save it for posterity. Considering the time, effort and resources that companies devote to wine packaging, labels seem to get the lion’s share of the attention. But that’s not always the case for products such as the cork which actually come in contact with the wine. “Cork tends to be treated like a commodity,” said Vance Rose, director of sales and marketing at Amorim, “and wineries often buy cork based upon price alone.” Read full article For Natural Cork, Form Follows Function here.

Smart Labels

Wine labels work overtime on brand protection As the prestige sector of the wine industry scrambles to exercise more control over the wine fraud that’s running rampant in Asia’s emerging markets, the remaining 99% of the industry is pondering security measures and looking for clues as to the role digital communication will play in the future of brand marketing. For wineries whose products are destined for evolving and often unregulated overseas markets, the belief that price-point alone will provide protection from the unwanted attention of counterfeiters may be short-lived. In Shenzhen, China, authorities predict that the country will continue to struggle with fraud until consumers are able to identify obvious defects in wine. While gatekeepers and educators will continue to develop their ability, and reports of illness will raise public awareness, the foreseeable future represents a steep learning curve for Chinese consumers and an uphill battle for producers.  As the market for luxury wine (above $15) in Asia grows, the reputation of wines from any protected origin will continue to be at risk. French technology …

The tractor factor: Small vineyard equipment delivers big results for Eastern winegrowers

Winegowers the world over are motivated to plant tightly-spaced vineyards for a variety of reasons but, the driving factors in the Eastern United States are the near-term attainment of quality and the long-term productivity. Just as vineyard architecture is benefiting from laser design technology and GPS tracking, automated vineyard practices continue to advance productivity and quality gains in vineyards of every scale. “It’s something I call the ‘tractor factor.’ Of all the constraints there are in the world of viticulture, the tractor should not be the primary factor when it comes to vineyard architecture,” confirms Lucie Morton, a Virginia-based international viticulture consultant who is well-known for translating the American edition of Pierre Galet’s seminal word, A Practical Ampelography. Complete article here The Tractor Factor

Multi-tasking harvesters boost quality and efficiency

During a research trip to the Languedoc region of southern France, AOC winegrowers there were quick to point out the increased performance of the equipment they are using to grow and harvest their grapes. With the Languedoc being home to 70 % of the organic wines in France, mechanization is down-played by some producers who seek to limit all impacts on their sites, but there is no denying the leaps in quality and efficiency that have been brought to bear through mechanical pre-pruning and harvesting. Complete article here…Multi-tasking Harvesters May June 09

Protecting your solar investment: Low-tech deterrents reduce risk of theft

Napa Valley WinegrowersTheft of solar panels from wineries in Northern California has been on the wane since the height of a 2009 crime spree, yet unprotected solar installations are still being targeted by opportunistic thieves. Jon Thompson, a deputy with Napa County’s Problem Oriented Policing Program, has visited the site of every solar panel theft in the county. He credits Napa Valley Crime Stoppers (NVCS), a non-profit organization founded in August 2010 by the Rutherford Dust Society and vintner Michael Honig – who has had ground-mounted panels stolen on three occasions – with raising awareness in the community. “In 2009 Rutherford was the nation’s leader in solar panel installation, and that year alone (vintners) lost $400,000 worth of solar panels to theft,” Thompson said. As a result, NVCS established an anonymous tip line through its Facebook page that offers a cash reward for information leading to arrests. Thompson’s unit has also been proactive with the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and Napa Valley Vintners associations in raising awareness among wineries and encouraging them to increase security measures. …

Success with optical grape sorters

For a host of reasons, including the simple truth that sorting is a winemaker’s last opportunity to improve quality, optical sorters are giving producers of all sizes more control over the timing and speed at which harvest occurs. With optical grape sorting technology at work in many of the world’s leading wine-producing regions, mechanization is beginning to take on a new meaning – one that is more aligned with quality gains than with the cost-saving measures historically associated with mechanical harvesting. Although optics are one of the newest processing technologies for wine grapes, there is already plenty of anecdotal and empirical data available which demonstrates that, for many producers, optical sorting is a faster, more efficient and potentially less costly alternative to hand sorting. Optical sorting technology itself is far from being new. It was used by the food processing industry for more than 30 years before it was adapted and widely marketed for wine grapes in 2008. Over the last several years, field trials conducted in France, Italy, Argentina, Chile and California by several …