All posts filed under: Viticulture

The Dawn of Agtech

Agricultural drones may be creating plenty of buzz, but their terrestrial cousins — the robots — are poised to make their commercial debut. Next year promises to be the year of the agricultural robot. With the altruistic vision of creating a sustainable society where future generations are free from worry about food security and safety, the world’s first robotic lettuce farm will go into production in 2017. Kyoto, Japan-based company, Spread, has retooled an indoor vertical lettuce plant where robots will plant, water, harvest and trim up to 30,000 heads of lettuce every day. The automated plant will reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30% and recycle 98% of the water needed to grow the crops. The company has plans to build similar robot farms to grow staple crops and plant protein around the world. Growing lettuce in a greenhouse is a far cry from managing a vineyard, but from apple harvesting robots that can carry bins of fruit weighing half a ton, to grapevine pruning rovers that make surgical cuts, several …

Bitterness: Examing the chemistry behind the taste sensation

Humans are particularly sensitive to bitterness. Thanks to a small but novel family of 30 genes, we can perceive thousands of bitter compounds. Our ability to discern bitter tastes evolved as a way to keep our early ancestors from eating poisonous plants. Bitterness is a taste sensation that we experience when monomeric flavonoid phenols, the compounds that are responsible for bitterness in wine, reach the bitter taste receptor cells on our taste buds. As the receptors send electrochemical signals to the gustatory cortex, we experience bitterness. To what degree determines whether we consider a wine to be merely complex, flawed or faulted. Read the entire article here –Bitterness June July 2016  

Ozone Sanitation Moves from Winery to Vineyard

In 1997 ozone was approved by the EPA as a safe and effective method of general sanitation for wineries. With the commitment to sustainable farming practices on the rise, it’s now proving to be equally useful in the vineyard. Ozone, or O3, a bluish unstable gas that smells like the air charged by lightning during a thunderstorm, is generated when oxygen and electricity are combined. At high enough concentrations, ozone-charged water becomes a chemical-free alternative to pesticides. Third-generation grower John Bacigalupi farms using many of the traditional methods he learned from his father and grandfather. Last year the Bacigalupi family marked its 50th year growing grapes in Russian River Valley and, in his efforts to be a better steward to the land, Bacigalupi continually adapts his farming practices to keep pace with the way pests and disease respond to chemical treatments.  Read the article here 2015JA_PARKERWONG_Ozone

Flash Heat Treatment Shown to Benefit Vines and Wine

Many advances pioneered by the dairy industry have improved winemaking in the cellar, but when it comes to using flash or instantaneous heat, it all starts in the vineyard. Flash pasteurization was first applied to milk in 1933. Sixty years later, flashbake ovens made their debut and, shortly thereafter, the adoption of frost prevention and thermal pest control techniques for winegrowing began making news. Fast forward two decades and you’ll find the latest generation of Thermal Plant Treatment (TPT) technology gaining interest from Oregon to Monterey. After three years of rigorous trials by Walnut Creek, Calif.-based AgroThermal Systems, trials show that patented flash heat treatments to vines are producing a host of benefits that extend well beyond the disruption of pest lifecycles. Read the article here: Flash Vine Treament  

Berry Sensory Analysis: A Common Language for Describing Maturity

If everyone on your winegrowing and winemaking teams shares a common language, there’s less risk involved when it comes to making crucial decisions. Few would argue that the most crucial decision a winemaker faces is when to pick. Beyond establishing intentions for the style and quality of the finished wine, making confident, proactive picking decisions relies on accurately assessing levels of ripeness. This acquired skill is on that vineyard managers and winemakers typically master through trial and error as they learn to speak the same language when describing degrees of fruit maturity and other sough-after qualities. Using the analytical method of Berry Sensory Analysis (BSA), a technique to describe the characteristics of grape maturity developed by Jacques Rousseau at the Institut Cooperatif du Vin in Montpellier, France, and introduced in Northern California by Enartis Vinquiry in 2006, winemakers can c onfidently assess fruit quality for specific wine styles and, in turn, gain more control over harvest timing decisions and production methods. Read the entire article here: Berry Sensory Analysis

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.