Many industries are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, but winemakers certainly aren’t one of them.
Research by Mordor Intelligence indicates that the global wine market is enjoying a CAGR of 5.8%. A marked increase in the number of companies producing wine in China, India, and Japan, as well as increasing demands for new varieties (such as tropical fruit wines), are the major factors that seem to be driving growth.
But new technologies are under-appreciated element of the wine boom, enabling manufacturers to produce more sustainable, flavorful wines without adversely affecting the environment.
These are just a few technologies to watch out for.
Water Waste Reduction
Water is a priceless commodity in many parts of the world, and winemakers who value sustainability are looking for ways to preserve it.
Traditional strategies used for this purpose included improving soil permeability and the use of organic mulching and drip irrigation. New on-site water treatments, however, are able to go much further, recapturing 99% of a vineyard’s rinse water and cutting water use down to practically zero. Although on-site water treatment systems are a big investment, costing around half a million dollars, they pay for themselves in the end through reduced water bills in just three years.
From Barrel to Stave
Aging wine with oak staves instead of using barrels allows wineries to reduce costs while imbuing wine with highly curated specified flavor profiles. Staves are a useful way to manipulate the sweetness of individual wines, since different thicknesses can provide different profiles. Thus, dry wines that are a little too dry can be aged in thinner staves to lend it gentler, sweeter notes.
Staves also affect wine in terms of flavor type. Light toasting levels result in vanilla notes and heavier toasting levels produce flavors ranging from caramel to smoky and toasted.
AI for Yield and Quantity Predictions
Artificial intelligence has been disrupting a host of industries—and wine is no exception.
Currently, it’s being used in dedicated programs to predict how much wine a crop will yield—something that was mere guesswork just a few years ago. Today, by inputting data into the right platforms, machine learning can predict crop yields with an accuracy of 80% to 90%.
Cell Death Measurements for Harvest Time Predictions
Knowing exactly when to harvest grapes can be a big problem for vintners.
In the past, winemakers used to have to head out into the vineyard and taste grape batches to ensure they were ready to be picked. In 2018, however, researchers at The University of Adelaide (Australia) found that miniature oxygen probes can be used to measure the rate of cell death within grapes. Results obtained are an optimal way to determine whether or not a grape is ready to be turned into wine.
There are a plethora of new technologies that are reducing the expense of making wine and taking guesswork out of the equation. From artificial intelligence to predict yields right through to the measurement of cell death rates in grapes to determine if they are ripe for the picking, are all making the winemaking game more scientific. Meanwhile, sophisticated onsite water treatment systems are dramatically reducing water wastage and adding welcome sustainability (and cost-effectiveness) to the industry.
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