Our customers inspire TerrAvion products. Ag retailers, agronomists, growers, or ag tech partners; we are focused on building tools that they need. Through relationships with our involved users, we learn how they are finding success in using TerrAvion imagery to power their operations. We like to share that information with the rest of our user base so that they, too, can get the most out of their investment in TerrAvion imagery. In our new Power User blog series, we will highlight the success stories of some of our most progressive users.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
TerrAvion customer Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the largest group of wineries in Washington State and one of the largest wine producers in the U.S.A. They are the single largest producer of Riesling in the entire world. Ste. Michelle established many growing regions in Washington and helped build a global market for the state’s wine. Ste. Michelle uses TerrAvion high-resolution subscription aerial imagery to increase its operational efficiency and profits. One particular way that Ste. Michelle employs TerrAvion imagery is to aid its differential harvesting operations.
Vineyards produce fruit of various qualities throughout a block. Wines can be crafted by choosing specific characteristics in the fruit and managing the harvest to capitalize on those traits. For instance, smaller berries in a red variety have a strong correlation to fruitful flavors and deep red color, while larger berries have a correlation with more vegetal and some green flavors. By separating these flavors at harvest, they are able to give the winemakers different types of fruit to craft the wines that they are after. Different characteristics are not necessarily high quality versus low quality, but many times they do allow the winemaker to select fruit that will ultimately end up in a premium tier wine.
The goal of differential harvesting is to harvest different types of fruit separately to preserve the value of the grapes. If high-quality grapes can be identified and targeted for differential harvesting, they can be isolated from lower-quality grapes, conserving their distinctive quality characteristics. In order to employ differential harvesting, two things are needed; data capable of distinguishing between two grades of wine grapes and machines capable of harvesting the different grades of grapes. Ste. Michelle uses TerrAvion imagery to identify and target different characteristics in the grapes. TerrAvion NDVI imagery reveals patterns in the vineyard blocks that Ste. Michelle further analyzes to determine grape quality.
Once different types of grapes have been identified, the challenge then becomes harvesting them separately on a large scale. To do this, Ste. Michelle uses a “signaling system” directed by NDVI maps. At harvest, two gondola drivers follow each other down each row, each designated to harvest a different type of grape identified by NDVI imagery. The two grades of fruit are then separately delivered to the winery, where two different wines are produced. Ste. Michelle estimates that performing differential harvesting on a 10-acre block can pay for all of their imagery costs for an entire season.
For more information on differential grape harvesting using TerrAvion imagery, please complete the form below.