The Future of Winemaking is Fueled by Data

They say knowledge is power, but never has this been as true as in today’s ever-changing, innovation fueled world. For innovators, creators, marketers and investors of every industry: Data is king. Data and information drives innovation in Silicon Valley and Napa Valley alike. How do you think stainless steel wine barrels came to be? Winemakers and manufacturers recognized a problem, looked at the data and saw an opportunity for improvement. The quest for innovation continues on.

We will never have less information than we have today, so the pace of change in every industry will only increase. As we continue to gather, sort and analyze information, winemakers will enjoy a feast of data to help fuel their decisions on the production and marketing side of business. And, just like the stainless steel wine barrel, the wine industry will continue to find new ways to prevent and solve problems in production.

One example of data driven innovation comes from Mike Holst, senior director of operations at Cypress Semiconductor in Berkley, California. Holst didn’t know much about the wine industry until 2010 when his boss, who also happens to own Clos de la Tech winery, rallied the Cypress troops to develop and improve new winemaking tools.

Holst took a multi-disciplinary approach to the challenge and ultimately developed a device that could deliver an accurate and instant Brix measurement. Holst’s tool uses difference in air pressure to record changes in must density. After creating and testing dozens of prototypes and algorithms, analyzing the successes and failures of each attempt, Holst had it. He is also responsible for the creation of a high-tech, real-time sensor for phenolics. To discover the true value of such winemaking innovations, winemakers need to pay attention to, adopt and embrace new technologies.

Eventually, there will be real-time sensors like Holst’s at every point of the wine production process. These sensors will form a network of information output that, once connected to the internet, will provide continuous data about every aspect of winemaking from grape growing and harvesting through to fermentation and bottling.

The more Holst and other American innovators leverage data and create new products, the more the American wine industry can create new data, lower production costs, improve quality and compete internationally.