Robots in the vineyards, AI wine critics, and block chain 4x4QR codes to track wine and provide transparency to consumers. These are just a few of the topics that were presented by a panel of wine technology experts as part of a recent 2021 OIV study. Entitled ‘Digital Trends in the Vine & Wine Sector’, the study included a comprehensive survey of wineries in 18 OIV member countries along with in-depth interviews with 21 wine technology experts. The results reveal 9 major technology trends that will shape the future of wine.
According to Pau Roca, Director General of the OIV (International Organization of Vine & Wine), “The study is part of our strategic plan 2020-2024, where digital transformation appears as a catalyst … that will allow the viti-vinicultural sector, its producers and consumers, to adapt to a world threatened by the climate change crisis.” The main objectives of digitalization in wine are to: improve efficiency, productivity, and sustainability; provide more transparency to consumers, and create value propositions and new business models.
Nine Major Digital Trends in the Global Wine Industry
Following are descriptions of the nine major technologies that are predicted to transform the global wine industry in the future:
1) Wine Internet of Things and Sensor Technology – there will be increased use of technology sensors in the vineyard, winery, distribution and on the wine bottle itself. The data will be compiled on the Internet so it can easily be accessible to employees and consumers.
According to Oliver Oran, CEO of Chainvine, this type of sensor technology will give rise to the Intelligent Wine Bottle, which is: “a bottle of wine moving around and sharing its data.” The combination of sensors, block chain, and QR codes will allow the bottle to track its temperature, humidity, location, who it was sold to, and current price. In addition, consumers will be able to learn about the vineyard from which it was sourced, how the vineyard was farmed, how the wine was made, any additives, and wine reviews from both experts and other consumers.
2) Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Wine – more use of smart machines in the vineyard and winery to perform tasks requiring human intelligence. This includes better crop monitoring and management, quality process monitoring in the winery, and more comprehensive wine reviews.
According to Dr. Bernard Chan, Professor of Computer Science Department at the University of Central Arkansas, applying AI to different wine critic reviews “will allow us to create a database that synthesizes all of the different reviews to provide more clarity on taste markers and what makes a 90+ plus wine for a specific region. We are not trying to replace wine critics, but to provide a more comprehensive analysis of wine for consumers.”
3) Robotics in the Vineyard and Winery – increased use of robots for fertilizing and harvesting in the vineyard, and inventory control and movement in the winery.
According to Mr. Albert Strever , Senior Lecturer at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, “With lowered costs in recent years, it is believed that in the next three to five years these robotic systems will have a far greater impact on the vine and wine sector.”
4) Satellite Imagery and GPS in the Vineyard– though already used by larger wine corporations to monitor the health of vineyards, it is expected that these technologies will be adopted by smaller wineries as well. Using drones and satellites, wineries can easily gather data on ripeness, water shortage, and disease pressure in the vineyard, and act more quickly to preserve quality. It also supports sustainability, because products are only sprayed in the vineyard if necessary.
5) Laser Image Detecting and Ranging in the Vineyard – Using LIDAR, which is a remote imaging technology, the structure of a vineyard can be mapped. This allows wineries to create 3D maps of vineyards, which assists with robot technology in the vineyard, and reduction of accidents. This will help to create the ‘Smart Vineyard’ of the future.
6) Wine Block Chain Technology – a chain of blocks that contain encrypted information which will improve traceability of wine, and assist with smart contracts. This will be especially useful with wine distribution, so that distributors and consumers know where the wine has been. It will also assist in reducing wine fraud and counterfeit wine.
7) E-Labels for Wine – electronic wine labels that provide extensive information about the wine. Consumers will be able to use their smart phone to access 4x4QR codes that will provide complete information about the vineyard and wine production – even linking to videos. E-Label will provide improved transparency and increased traceability. E-Labels are part of the Intelligent Wine bottle of the future. A few wineries are already experimenting with augmented reality labels, but the E-Label of the future will provide much more information.
8) E-Certificates for Wine – since wine is transported and sold all over the world, there are currently many paper documents that are required to ship and receive wine into different countries, along with tax and tariff documentation. E-Certificates will eliminate paper and allow all of these documents to be accessed digitally.
Oran is excited about this technology, because he also sees it as both good for the environment and a cost-savor. “Currently in the UK, 15 million are spent per year on customs paperwork. With this technology we will be able to get to a world where there are no paper declarations.”
9) Smart Wine Storing – because wine is stored in warehouses around the world, there is a need to move to smart warehouses that will help wineries reduce costs and improve efficiency and logistics. This will primarily be centered around increased use of robotics.
Highest Priority Technologies for Global Wineries
One of the interesting aspects of the study was the response of global wineries to a survey question about which technologies they believed to have the highest level of priority importance. The results, in rank order of importance, are:
1) Digitalization of Wine Contents with an E-Label
2) Block Chain Technology
3) Satellite Imagery for Vineyards
4) E-Certificate for Trade and Distribution
5) Artificial Intelligence and Smart Storing of Wine
Ironically, however, when survey participants were asked to give a grade on how well the global wine industry was adopting digital technologies compared to other agriculture sectors, such as coffee, cocoa, and olive oil, the gave themselves the equivalent of a C+. They didn’t believe they were very low, or low, but they also didn’t rank themselves as high or very high. At least the wine industry recognizes they need to do much more work in order to successfully adopt some of the new technologies that will not only assist with higher levels of efficiency and productivity, but will also enhance sustainability, worker safety, and transparency to the consumer.
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