Micromanaging our Microsites

Micromanaging our Microsites

We live in the day and age where technology rules.  Many of us still remember the days when there were no cell phones and now it seems like we can’t live without them. As technology continues to develop in our everyday lives, so too does technology in our vineyards. By being an estate winery, we are able to use technology that we otherwise would not to achieve a higher level of control allowing us to micromanage every aspect of the winemaking process from the vineyards through to the bottled wine which, is significant.  

Since 2009, we have made substantial investments in wine quality at the winery including hand and optical sorting, small lot open-top tank fermenters and improved infrastructure. These investments have continued in the vineyard with re-planting and vine management focused on the microsites that comprise the vineyards. This year, we introduced improved soil monitoring, the latest vineyard management software and the use of TerrAvion drones for aerial imagery that allows us to micromanage each block. Through these technology improvements, we are more site specific which will enhance the quality of our fruit.

One feature aerial imagery provides is georeferenced images of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is a ratio of visible and near-infrared light as seen from the aircraft. The pigment in plants, chlorophyll, strongly absorbs visible light for the use of photosynthesis, while the cell structure of the leaves strongly reflects near-infrared light. NDVI values are therefore determined by both leaf area and chlorophyll levels. Higher NDVI values are an indication of higher chlorophyll production, and thus higher vigor. We also use aerial imagery and pressure chambers to closely monitor plant moisture throughout the growing season which helps determine when we deficit irrigate the vineyards.  This means we only irrigate when the vines are severely stressed and use either recycled water, rainfall water or water from our underground aquifers.   

With the implementation of such tools, our viticulture team has access to valuable site-specific information to make informed vineyard management decisions and assist in early detection of vineyard disease and nutrition requirements. This hyper segmentation to the block and sometimes even row, enables us to adjust our farming to the unique needs of the vine.  Better planting, harvesting and overall farming decisions through the use of technology in the vineyard enables us to accelerate our quality improvements, improve our resource management and sustainability while continuing to learn and expand the knowledge of our sites.  

After harvest, our team tastes through each wine and reviews parcel by parcel and barrel by barrel to analyze what was done in the vineyard and the winery and how each decision impacted quality. This is information that we use in the following year’s harvest and because we are an estate winery, we have the ability to make changes as needed to ensure we maintain a high level of excellence both in the vineyard and in the bottle.  We are constantly striving to keep our land pristine and our wines at the highest level of quality which you can see when you visit our vineyards, or winery and taste our wines.

October 20, 2017

Categories: Inside St. SupéryThe Chronicles

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