On November 28th, the Wine Industry Network celebrated this year’s most innovative ideas with their annual WINnovation Awards. From taking a closer look at what’s in the soil, to improving upon the current distribution models, the award recipients represent some of the top thinkers in the vineyards and wineries today. Using technology, ingenuity, and intelligence, these five groups have advanced the process of winemaking, each in their own distinct way.
Starting at the source, Tule Technologies spent their year working on water. With their new FieldStat Water Stress Forecasts, they collect data to make site-specific, block-by-block forecasts for the outcomes of theoretical water applications and provide that forecast to vineyards. This gives growers a clearer understanding of the water stress level of their vines and how they are responding to irrigation, rainfall and evapotranspiration. This in turn allows a more precise control over how the vines grow and provides the grower with increased confidence as they make their irrigation decisions.
Another company down on the ground is Biome Makers with their product WineSeq. Using an array of medical diagnostic technology, Biome Makers identifies the microbiome “fingerprint” of vineyard soil, and can help assess its effects on the quality and sensory properties of the wine. By providing a thorough analysis of microbiology surrounding the vines, Biome Makers have provided a tool for oenologists to monitor the sustainability of crops and can even get an early diagnosis of disease before any visible symptoms occur. Their work on DNA sequencing, “Intelligent Computing” and the resulting database of more than 2,000 microbial species helps winemakers create better wine based and a more advanced understanding of the Terroir.
At the production level, two companies have created new inventions to improve the actual act of winemaking. The first is a new grape separating machine by Amos Indsutie called the Tribaie, which literally means Berry Sorter. While previous pursuits in mechanizing sort grapes by optics, the Tribaie places the grapes in a sugar or must solution and which then separates them based on a density chosen by the winemaker. Riper grapes, with a higher brix, sink, while less ripe ones float. By using this process, one can avoid some of the challenges included in optical sorting and make a more efficient process.
Vivelys also stood out as an innovator in production with Cilyo. Cilyo measures the need of oxygen in white and rosé musts. By injecting a specific quantity of oxygen then measuring its consumption, winemakers can determine what amount of oxygen they have to add to the wine to get the desired product. Not only does it help preserve the aromas, it also reduces the need for additional steps of protection for the musts.
The last innovator on Wine Industry Network’s list this year was commended for their contributions to the distribution side of the equation. Liberation Distribution (LibDib) is the first licensed distributor to also be a technology company. Consequently, their platform approaches America’s 3-tier distribution system in a completely new way, regardless of size, advertising, or incentives. Makers of specialty wine and craft spirits, as well as microbreweries, can all upload information on their products, and resturants, bars and retailers can purchase them. An online marketplace is not a new idea by any stretch, but by reducing marketing costs and in turn reducing prices, LibDib has saved a lot of people a lot of money by bringing distribution into the 21st Century.