Bouchaine vineyards turned to IoT technology to better manage environmental factors such as wind, light and humidity. As a result, the winery is banking on the best grape crops.
Like many companies in 2020, Bouchaine Vineyards was digitizing the customer experience – fast. With stay-at-home orders, he moved on to virtual summer rehearsals via videoconferencing to accommodate distance living.
Virtual rehearsals got their creative license with their digital medium: Consumers could listen to jazz music from a screen while enjoying a pinot noir – all while Bouchaine Vineyards managers shared details about the good quality of the year – in a Cisco Webex phone call.
This was the first step towards making the practice of growing wine and connecting customers to the vineyard more concrete, said Brian Allard, Bouchaine’s direct customer director.
“We can connect customers who are computer-savvy and environmentally friendly,” Allard said. “It simply came to our notice then. We are no longer talking only about hints of cherry. Now the connection between the history of the vineyard and the glass is more tangible. “
From Videoconferencing to IoT on Microclimate Management
What started with some video calling as a way to reach customers was transformed into a new way of operating the canteen, through Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.
One of the most important challenges for the winery is how to manage its various “blocks” of land, to produce quality grapes and, thus, quality wine. These blocks, said Chris Kajani, general manager, function as microclimates, with their smell, temperature, humidity and other environmental characteristics.
Previously, managing these blocks required viewing some weather applications on a phone, plus visual surveillance of the blocks, but there was little data after surveillance. With data generated by its 12 Cisco Industrial Asset Vision sensors, Bouchaine can be more proactive about irrigating a certain block or storing water if the data shows that a block is sufficiently irrigated.
“It allows you to not be reactionary,” Kajani said. “Even if it was really dry, even when it was really windy, the sensor technology allows us not to water just because we think it is dry. You have numbers after that. You can save those resources as needed. We can manipulate our agricultural operation into what a block needs at the time. “
Also, Allard said, IoT data is helping grape growers not only become better caretakers on the planet through water conservation, but also better wine producers.
“How to become a better land administrator AND develop a better bottle of wine? “Allard said.” With every drought,
with every fire, with every part of the wind, is part of the discussion. “
As Kajani noted, IoT sensors allow winemakers to fine-tune their harvesting behavior on each block of land and optimize grape harvesting. While block 3 is a noir pinot, block 4 in the vineyard could be for Chardonnay. Every block and vintage has different needs for light, moisture and irrigation.
IoT data is also helping to optimize harvest time based on good quality needs.
There are questions like: ‘When do you harvest? When to pick grapes? ‘Kajani said. “It is not possible to put grapes on the vine. But you can see, with data, in different parts of your block, what has been the tendency of humidity. Previously we just used visual data and tried grapes. You can now view blocks based on historical data; everything that allows you to have a 360 degree view and decide when to choose. “
In the end, Kajani said, IoT sensors are allowing the vineyard to become more efficient and more sought after in its trade.
IoT Challenges for Agriculture
IoT in agriculture is big business. According to some estimates, it could be worth $ 32.7 billion by 2027.
However, while agriculture can benefit from the Internet of Things, placing sensors on damp soil can threaten sensor resilience and introduce network connectivity. As the vineyard looks to the future, it is exploring additional and next-generation sensors with even greater resilience when exposed to the elements.
“Apparently, new sensors are coming down from the field that could be stronger for soil moisture, so we are open to the universe,” Kajani said.
Allard also noted that additional sensors can provide proactive monitoring of water pumps and other equipment to prevent pump failure – and catastrophic consequences for water waste.
After all, the IoT is helping the vineyard well regulate all of its grape growing activities while conserving resources.
“All of this helps us call into our summer growing culture,” Kajani said. “Being able to do absolutely the highest grape growing allows us to make the best wines.”
Editor’s note: The main photo features Bouchaine Vineyarrd workspace for virtual proofs; the picture on the right contains a Cisco sensor in a vineyard block.