From drones to robots: How digital technology is revolutionizing the wine industry

Adam Beak
Posted by Adam Beak
Agribusiness Banking

Wine production is going digital. Traditionally, you may associate the wine industry with land, water, harvests and appellations, but today wine professionals and patrons alike are discovering new digital products and services.

Aerial view of vineyards in hilly terrain on a cloudy day.That’s just one of the interesting insights from Agrifrance, a special division of BNP Paribas Wealth Management.

Drones and robots

From farming to distribution, wine makers are increasingly looking toward disruptive technologies to make the industry more efficient and profitable. Case in point: Drones are being used in precision wine-growing, so that things like the number of unproductive grapevines in a plot of land can be monitored quickly.

According to the report, it’s now possible to assess the health of a vineyard by analyzing the amount of chlorophyll in vine leaves. Sensors installed on drones can also measure the temperature and humidity in wine cellars.

Wine makers are also correlating data and information about the vineyard – soil tests, details of grape varieties, age of vineyards – to help them make decisions on fertilization, weeding, protection of vine stocks, and the harvest when grapes reach optimum maturity.

Another great example of digital innovation is the way robots are addressing the emerging labor shortage at some wineries and vineyards. The report cites how prototype robots are being developed for monitoring and weeding land. Robots alleviate the workload and optimize profitability of the business, while reducing the environmental impact.

Barriers to tapping tech

So why aren’t more growers using digital technologies to boost efficiencies and profits? It may be as simple as cost. More than 50% of vineyards employ fewer than 10 people. In a survey on new viticulture technologies conducted among wine-growers in France’s Nouvelle Aquitaine region, 80% of vineyards with fewer than 10 employees indicated that they had no digital needs. Three-quarters of the respondents cited cost as the main obstacle to investing in new technology.

From my perspective, the main barrier is the feeling that these technological advances are too expensive, especially for smaller wine growers. A possible solution may lie in sharing the tools and machinery and to promote best practices among industry groups.

For more information, read the full Agrifrance report.

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