Vineyards: Then and Now. Technology or not?

A vineyard is a plantation of grapevines, grown mainly for winemaking, raisins, fresh table grapes and grape juice that do not contain any alcohol.  Vineyards usually requires specific geographical and geological characteristics

The earliest evidence of wine production dates back from 6000-5000BC.  Wine making and technology improved considerably from then.  Through the ages, the ancient Greeks and then the Romans developed cultivating techniques that were common throughout Europe.

In the middle ages, the monasteries maintained and developed viticulture practices, because they had the resources, security, stability and interest to do so.  The wine was necessary for the celebration of Mass.

The quest for vineyard efficiency has produced a wide and bewildering range of systems and techniques over the years.  Also more bewildering because, some believe that, the more natural and the less technology is the best for wine making, and the other half believes that technology can only better wine making and increase productivity.

Vineyards that do not use Modern technologies:

  1. Natural Fermentation; Most of the fermentation starts spontaneously with yeasts that occur on the fruit and in the cellar. Fermentation will play out over several months.  They rely on just the natural chemistry of the fruit.  Nothing added, nothing is taken away.
  2. No Refrigeration; No refrigeration are used during the winemaking process. Through winter times the winery might be heated by wood fires.
  3. No Pesticides; only organic management practices that include plant based teas and rock minerals are used to increase plant health. Healthy plants can resist pests.

Modern Technology used in Vineyards:

  1. Mechanical harvesting; this machine will harvest as much as 40 workers at the same time.
  2. Fruit Sorter; Cameras and image processing software will separate and discard low-quality products.
  3. Sensors; can be used in various stages throughout the wine making processes. It collects data and can determine when something is not right.  It can also regulate the times when processes start or finish.

The implementation of more mechanical harvesting and wine making is often brought on by changes in labour laws, labour shortages and also costs.  It can be very expensive to hire labourers for only short periods of time.  Technology can save on production costs and also shorten the time that you harvest.

However, all vineyards are not readily adaptable to technology because of incompatible widths between rows of grape vines and the terrain they grow on.  Including the resistance of traditional views that reject high technologies, the question is still wide open, “Technology or not?”