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Startups like Alfred, WineGrid, and Overproof are leveraging AI to automate the wine industry
To be honest, when I think of wine-making, the first image that pops into my head is Lucy stomping around in the grapes (I might have just dated myself with that reference). Obviously, that's not the reality of how wine is actually made, a process which is no doubt much more technologically advanced than that these days.
In fact, tech is innovating every step of the process, from the cultivating and growing to the way the bottle is stored on the shelf. Wineries can use technology in a number of ways, including helping them track weather so they grow their grapes under the best conditions, as well as sensors that can be placed in the vineyard or winery, or even on the wine bottle itself, to give data will be compiled on the Internet so it can easily be accessible to employees and consumers.
For example, Napa Valley vineyard Bouchaine used IoT sensors from Cisco Systems to track its 100 acres of vineyards, including temperature, light, humidity, wind and water availability. It also measures the amount of light hitting individual grapevines.
Vineyards are also starting to deploy robots to help with their crops: in 2021, the Willamette Valley Vineyards became the first in the world to use a robot to apply ultraviolet-C light to fight powdery mildew. Meanwhile, the Château Clerc Milon in Pauillac, France developed a robot named TED for soil cultivation of high density vineyards.
Once the wine is bottled and sent off, technology can also be used even when storing or serving the wine, including electronic labels that provide information about the wine and smart storing, which can help warehouses that will help wineries reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Some of the most interesting technology transforming the wine industry, though, is through the use of artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence in the wine industry
While all of the above mentioned technologies can collect data to help make the best wine and get it into the hands of the customer, it's the AI that can sift through that data and make it actionable.
Applications for AI in wine include vineyard monitoring and control, giving growers tools that can scan and assess plant conditions, detecting everything from early signs of diseases to pest invasions, allows for decisions to be made in real-time. AI can also assist with weather forecasting to help prepare for various conditions, from drought to excessive rainfall.
While some of these use cases are somewhat universal, a more specific use case for the wine industry is fermentation, which is what determines the flavor, aroma, and overall quality of the wine. AI can be used to monitor and modulate fermentation conditions in real-time so they can be tailored to the unique requirements of that variety.
Once the wine is bottled and sent out, AI can be used to better understand consumer taste preferences so that wineries can tailor-make them to fit those taste profiles, or they recommend wines that those consumers are mot likely to want to buy. AI can also be used to anticipate demand, proficiently manage stock levels, and optimize the supply chain.
Startups leveraging AI
There are a number of startups leveraging AI to automate the wine industry.
For example, Alfred specializes in the intelligent management of inventory and supply of wines and spirits for the hospitality industry, while Tastry is a technology that predicts which wines an individual is going to like before they try them.
Others include WineGrid, which offers a remote and real-time winemaking monitoring solution through an artificial intelligence engine that automatically detects fermentation processes; Deep Planet, an AI/machine-learning platform that leverages satellite imagery and IOT sensors to deliver actionable insights on wine grape growing; Overproof, which applies AI to the alcohol industry, offering various SaaS solutions to suppliers, distributors, and retailers; and Vivino, an online wine marketplace and community providing tools to help people buy the right wine.
(Image source: analyticsindiamag.com)
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