Implementation Of Technology In The Wine Industry

In terms of growing competition in international markets, achieving higher quality standards becomes one of the most important factors in the vineyard and wine industry. Traditionally, viticulture has been conducted in a consistent way; similar doses of fertilizer, soil management or pruning have been applied with identical intensity in a vineyard. However, it has been revealed that the vineyard displays spatial variation within the same parcel as technology and science further developed. These facts let winemakers require “precision” in their vineyards.

“Precision Viticulture” is fundamentally about enabling viticulturists and wine producers to make more informed and targeted management decisions to optimize vineyard performance. The main concept of Precision Viticulture (PV) has originated from French concept 'Terroir' which refers to the surrounding environment that provides a wine with its unique flavor and aroma. The physiological results of a vine which are resulted from various environmental conditions directly effect to quality of grapes. So, technology in this field is usually more oriented to analyze the information which is related to each vine and suggests more diverse management to produce the best wine possible. The process of analyzing data is like below.

Step one: observation and data collection. Precision viticulture requires data collection to represent the information of the production system. For example, quantity, quality and the soil properties of the environment. The type, timing, and manner in which the data is essential because they have a considerable impact on the interpretation of the performance results.

Step two: Data interpretation and evaluation. The interpretation of the data is a critical step; therefore, this step is usually treated with great care. Meanwhile, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are very useful and often used to help interpret and evaluate the situation.

Step three: Implementation of the management plan. When the data interpretation shows relevant information, then there will be an implementation of a management plan. The vineyard will be separated into a few different sectors. Each sector will be managed differently according to the harvest level. However, a long term analysis and study is required before implementing such a management plan.

For without technology and such massive amounts of vineyard information, each step of precision viticulture is impossible (Arno´ et al., 2009). For instance, in the first step, GPS technology is used in precision viticulture data collection. By analyzing the collection of data from GPS, it can produce “soil mapping”, which represents a diversity of soil types in a certain vineyard. Through this technology, appropriate viticulture management can be conducted depending on the characteristics of the vineyard which include soil, micro-climate, and topography to yield high grape quality. For instance, one vineyard block was harvested separately with a higher quality of wine grapes coming from one zone and lower quality grapes from the other. If this vineyard block were to be managed and harvested in a uniform way, the lower price would be priced for all of the grapes in the vineyard block. However, the vineyard was managed separately so that different types of grapes can be harvested in the same vineyard block. It allowed to higher quality grapes to be sold at a higher price. As a result, profitability was increased due to the implementation of a precision viticulture management plan.

However, precision viticulture is in early stage even though it has been investigated since 19c because, winemakers do not have enough functional tools for carrying out their management (Velten et al., 2015). They are able to know that certain vine in their parcel requires different management from others in their same parcel. But the difficulty is that they do not have enough tools for fulfilling the certain requirement of each vine.

Technologies in viticulture are used to ensure stabilities in the yields, but, these are used for commercialization in the wine industry. As a unique commodity, the wine was considered a gift from gods thus, the best wine was reserved for the elite of society. Besides, wine is not only composed of high quality of materials but it also requires intrinsic skills from each winemaker so, it considered as a luxurious commodity. However, technology started to involve that wine has become more widespread.

Making reliable prices and reducing the fermentation time are the main factors that allow the wine to become popularize. Traditionally, wines were aged in oak barrels, the oldest wine technology. However, barrel aging takes time and costs very expensive. Winemakers can take advantage of technology such as steel tanks to reduce the burden of time and cost of barrel aging (Derreumaux, 2017).

During winemaking process, one of the most important phases is fermenting because wine acquires its unique flavor, aroma and its quality during this phase. However, traditional oak barrels aging takes time and it does not offer many options that allow winemakers to involve in the process while fermentation is ongoing. In order to create a high quality of wine and stability in their productions, winemakers want to control the phase more delicately. So, they have been using different materials in their vessels; stainless steel, wood, and concrete. The most common of a tank, stainless steel vessels provide many benefits to the winemaking process. It is easy to control the temperature in stainless steel tanks, but it is also known to be hygienic. In addition, when it compares to traditional vessels, it is economical. Because, it has a longer life cycle than oak barrel has and it can be used in diverse ways depending on winemakers' purpose by changing the size, temperature, and shape. Because different properties of stainless steel can make a great fit for fermentation, wine-producers want to achieve in this phase. For example, if a winemaker wants to shorten the fermentation time, they can conduct fermentation at a higher temperature. On the other hand, in terms of tannin and flavor effects, if they do not want to add tannins or flavors to their already desirable wine, they can use a tank which helps to control the temperature easily to focus and highlight the specific profiles of your fruit (Marco et al., 2008). In short, tank fermentation provides more freedom to winemakers’ decision making by providing controllable options. Through this technology, it enables winemakers to be able to explore their own winemaking method, not they are restrained by wine-producing mechanism.

Fermenting and aging are the phases as it balances all the five parameters in the process; 1.oxygen, 2.Oak compounds, 3.Turbidity, 4.Temperature, and 5.Time (Derreumaux, 2017). Obviously, stainless steel tank aging provides more controllable options in 3, 4, and 5. In terms of Turbidity, it is the cloudiness of a fluid caused by a number of individual particles that are invisible to the naked eye so, the evaluation of turbidity can be done with a sensor in the tank. Of course, the management of temperature and time is much easier within tank barrels because tank barrels are devices that are invented to control time and temperature in more delicate and automatical ways. However, the use of oak barrels to ferment wine could have an important influence on the aromatic composition of the product. Wood is a porous material which can bind and release compounds, unlike the stainless steel tank which is a material that does not interact with wine (Marco et al., 2008). So, micro-ox technology is conceived in order to supplement oxygen and recreate the important procedures that happen in maturing in oak barrels.

Micro-oxygenation as a sort of wine aging process, it improves astringency and aromatic components of final wine by adding oxygen into wine at a controlled rate (Hatice & Dundar, 2017). In commercial sites, when it compares to oak barrel fermentation, Micro-oxygenation can manage the process more efficiently in terms of shortening the fermentation time while it can still include the aroma and gentle flavor which are from oak barrel fermentation. The process of micro-oxygenation is that adding oxygen to wines affects chemical and sensory components of wine by changing forms of phenolics, sulfur compounds and other reactions related to these compounds. After the application of micro-oxygenation, oxygen flow begins and this oxygen started to react to the components in wine, as a result, wine color, chromatic characters, and aroma get improved what can be derived from oak barrel application.

Lots of technologies in the wine industry allow wine-producers to understand the features of their vineyard and provide a lot of options to guarantee a high quality of final wine. In addition, technologies in various fields have been made it easier for more people to experience wine which has traditionally been regarded as the exclusive property of certain people with social status. However, it obscures dependent features of wine at the same time. A distinctive factor making wine different from other alcohols is that wine has unique properties from the background behind the bottled wine, which gives consumers chance to think about how it was made, who made it, and how this aroma came from rather than simply tasting the wine. But technologies make winemakers rely on technologies to ensure consistency of quality. So, some wine industry creates a fixed brand image and entices people to rely on that brand image, saying ' We always produce above-average wines, so consumers can buy any kind of wines from our company'. As a result, Wine consumers' perspective is quite straightforward to wine: they blindly react to the brand, they buy it, they taste it, and they believe they buy a good wine because the wine is from a reliable brand.

However, I believe, tasting wine without any curiosity is just taste fermented grape juice rather than experience wine. From a macro point of view, the technology chosen by the winery reflects the culture of its own country and the approach by producer and consumers. On a micro-level point of view, the brand and the culture of the individual winery will affect the willingness to innovate (Derreumaux, 2017). Some of the wineries based their trade on being the best and the cutting edge of the field, and others promote themselves as artisanal brands and offer a consumer experience to match this.

It is tough to tell which winery is the best, as they have their market strategy. In which choices will reflect the winery's culture, the winery's structure, and each employee's profile, etc. The challenge that the winemaking industry usually facing is to invent and create new products while remaining true to their vision. It is rather tricky for the winery to remain entirely artisanal while the taste profile varies each year; meanwhile, the quality of the wine needs to stay constant. Some wineries are still partially artisanal during the winemaking progress, and only offer their wine to the sophisticated customer through the help of technology like social media and the internet. No matter the company decide to change or not, they still need to understand that the world is continuously evolving and improving. They will need to move on to survive in the industry.


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09 March 2021
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