Sigfredo Fuentes, a plant physiologist and agronomist at the University of Melbourne, says such tech-based innovations are just the tip of the iceberg in winemaking. He says, when it comes to irrigation management for winemakers, another promising development is thermal and multispectral infrared cameras mounted on drones.

According to Fuentes, these new drones can pick up signs on vines that indicate their water status, by taking highly detailed photos as they fly overhead.

Another novel use of drones, he says, is to assess damage caused to vineyards by smoke from bushfires and wildfires, especially in places like California and Australia.

“The same drones that we use for irrigation scheduling we can use to detect the pattern of smoke contamination within a vineyard,” he tells The CEO Magazine.

“After a bushfire, a grower can fly a drone and see which sections of the fields have been contaminated and the level of contamination. This means that at least growers can do a harvest where they avoid contaminating good grapes with spoiled grapes.”

“New tools are also assisting winemakers to pick grapes at the right time, he says. Replacing the old-fashioned method of winemakers going out into a vineyard and tasting grapes, growers can now use a handheld device that assesses “cell death” in grapes, thereby reducing risk in one of the trickiest parts of the growing process.

While traditionalists may baulk at using such tech, Fuentes says it’s time the industry caught up with the modern world.”The current assessment when the winemaker goes to the field and picks some grapes and tries them comes from the middle ages,” he adds, “It’s from when people would bring the grapes to the priests to test.”