How to refine harvest date decision to better match both wine growers and winemakers expectations?

vineyard technology

Because winegrowers fear bad climate may ruin their efforts on vine production and alter yield, they may tend to harvest sooner rather than later, while winemaker’s expectations often call to delay harvest to improve grape color and aromatic profile.

The difference between these expectations can cause stress and tension between the winemaking and the vineyard teams.

Moreover, in the context of global warming, the correlation between sugar and color accumulation tends to change; making it harder to define the ideal compromise to set the harvest date.

At Fruition Sciences, we believe that agronomy and scientific innovations can contribute to support such strategic decision making. In that sense, the Bacchimeter is a way to build a bridge between winegrowers and winemakers. Here’s why.

How Bacchimeter can build a powerful bridge between winemaker and winegrower expertises?

For consumers, color is a key factor in wine perception of quality; so it has a direct impact on your revenue. How color can become a metric for harvest decisions?

We know that grape phenolic maturity is characterized by the accumulation of compounds in grape berry skin and seeds throughout the cycle of maturation. These compounds are responsible for the color as well as much of the sensorial and qualitative wine attributes. Among these phenolic compounds, anthocyanins are present almost always exclusively in berry skin (except for a few varietals) and are largely responsible for wine color. As fruit color is one of the main indexes for phenolic maturity, both winegrowers and winemakers expectations can be better matched by paying full attention to fruit color monitoring and mapping!

Ripeness tracking: how to go beyond traditional limitations.

Until recently, the only way to assess berry anthocyanin was via chemical analysis protocols. Such chemical methods have some drawbacks :

  • Tedious field sampling which can be more or less representative of the block spatial variability, depending on how they are performed.
  • Skin component extraction prior to analysis may introduce a difference with what will be extracted into the final wine.
  • Destructive methods to indicate anthocyanins concentration after berry crushing

Bacchimeter is a new technology developed by Force-A and exclusively provided in the US by Fruition Sciences. A reliable successor of the Multiplex, Bacchimeter helps characterizing grape phenolic maturity through optical measurement of Potential Anthocyanins (PA) directly from the vineyard. Bacchimeter provides non-destructive measurements of anthocyanins. It brings simple real-time and fast information related to phenolic maturity directly from the field. Measurements are automatically converted onto graphs or maps and are easily readable on our web platform 360viti.

Bacchimeter’s insights on the winemaking side 

Bacchimeter’s provides a qualitative vision of the vineyard through quantitative measurements of anthocyanins. Bacchimeter measurements are geolocated and information provided in real-time on the platform. No need to wait for chemical analysis results. Bacchimeter makes it easy to map ripening evolution.

Berry tasting: It has been shown that in a global warming context, phenolic maturity and sugar maturity are no longer correlated: sugar per berry peak can be reached about a month before color accumulation reaches its highest point. So sugar per berry peak is not the only metric to predict and refine harvest date: color and aromatic developments keep happening after the end of sugar accumulation.
When considering the aromatic profile, the winemaker can check the Bacchimeter’s graphs on 360viti and see whether color accumulation is still in progress or if there is a plateau showing the grape has finished its color accumulation and is closer to harvest date.

Bacchimeter helps to refine the timing and location of the areas where it is most critical and to perform field berry tasting just before harvest.

Once highlighted on the map, areas of early phenolic accumulation can drive berry tasting. Harvest dates implemented by homogeneous areas can be refined with targeted berry tasting plots in conjunction with the time profile of phenolic accumulation status.

Anticipate grape quality selection and organize harvest plan: Before harvest, winegrowers can separate grapes by color accumulation potential and allocate areas to different wine groups. Bacchimeter data can help plan according to tanks volume and storage capacity  before harvest

Build deep knowledge of blocks performance: Bacchimeter measurements, stored in 360viti, allow for block performance comparisons over the years. Winemakers can work hand in hand with winegrowers to analyze spatial variability and assess the consequences of practices on ripening profiles.

Bacchimeter’s insights on the wine-growing side 

It’s important to understand how the timing and intensity of practices affect vineyard productivity, in the context of local climatic conditions.

Analyzing vineyard events along a climatic timeline allows vineyard managers and winemakers to connect what is happening in the vineyard early in the season with fruit performances at the end of the season and eventually on wine composition in the cellar.

Between March and July, winegrowers decisions have consequences on fruit color: winegrowers will have to pay special attention to nitrogen and water deficit, that can boost or lower color accumulation:

  • during period 2, a moderate nitrogen deficit can boost color accumulation during ripening
  • during period 3, a moderate water deficit can also improve color accumulation as well as color extraction into the wine
  • during period 4, a low to a mild water deficit and careful canopy management contribute to maintain color accumulation as well as fruit color stability.

Bacchimeter’s color monitoring helps winegrowers understand the consequences of early practices on ripening patterns (such as canopy manipulation, water status management, Nitrogen management). Across different vintages, fruit color mapping helps to assess the impact of vineyard management practices on the ripening spatial and temporal variability.

Better understandings, better yield

Thanks to bacchimeter’s data, winegrowers can achieve a better understanding of the winemaker’s motivation to delay harvest, even after the end of berry sugar accumulation.

Winemakers can potentially justify a berry volume loss if color accumulation is increased as a result. The trade-off may be that an increased fruit color concentration may compensate for a moderate berry volume loss via, for instance, a better purchasing price.

Winegrowers can see objectively why winemakers ask for harvest date postponement if such decision is supported by increased color accumulation.

What is a perfect 360viti dashboard to follow and analyze color accumulation?

 

Because each member of the team has a personal ID on the 360viti web platform, everyone can access the same pieces of information and work better as a team.

Set up a color analysis per block in “Dashboard” 

Here are the “big five” parameters you may follow and analyze :

  • Bacchimeter measurements
  • Berry sugar accumulation (with Dyostem data or combining berry weight / Sugar concentration to compute Sugar per berry)
  • Water Satisfaction Index (with Sap Flow sensors). According to production objectives,  you may tolerate a low or moderate water deficit during period 3, period 4 and 5.
  • Nitrogen monitoring (with Dualex or more classical leaf analysis and  berry yeast assimilable nitrogen analysis.) According to production objectives, you may tolerate a low to moderate Nitrogen deficit during periods 2 and 3.
  • Vapor Pressure deficit ( from a weather station)

Benefits recap

For winemakers:

-Locate and identify the shape and size of uniform areas displaying similar phenolic maturity, know immediately where and when to perform berry tasting before harvest.
-Avoid tasting similar areas or redundant areas (sampling strategy)
-Use the size of the vineyard uniform area to refine tank allocation based and projected harvest volume.
-Schedule harvest date decision: plan the timing of harvest depending upon different areas of color accumulation and speed of accumulation, easy to see on maps.

For winegrowers:

-Check the consequences of your practices on ripening patterns
-Check across different vintages what is the spatial variability in ripening profiles

Both as a team :

-Analyze and make decisions supported with real-time information, with less stress, improve practices together year after year.

Do I have to become a skilled data analyst to follow the color accumulation on 360viti?

The Answer Is No. The Fruition Sciences team will help you set up your ideal dashboard. Your account manager will explain to your team how to use the Bacchimeter. She (or he) will also help you understand the concepts behind each measurement, what are appropriate timings and frequencies to make measurements and what are the links between different indexes.

Measurements are uploaded automatically. All you have to do is check your graphs and maps to observe key indices.

You will easily address key questions to support your decisions with data :

  • when is the maximum amount of color observed?
  • how quickly does color accumulate or degrade?
  • what is the effect of vineyard management practices in ripening profile (light manipulation; water status manipulation, etc..)?
  • are there any delays or disorders in color accumulation profile?

 

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