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Christmas Gift Guide

Turning to tech

Fermentation tanks

Going underground

Tunnels and tanks

18 stories underground

Palmaz Vineyards

Rotating carousel

The winery supercomputer

Data on the dome

Harvest time

Barrels and barrels

Tunnels

Palmaz Vineyards

Crush season

Vineyards with a view

Maturing vines

Eyes in the sky

Tracking grapes

Mapping grapes

Lessons in wine tasting

Testing tech

A vineyard in Sonoma

Grape harvester

Sensors among the vines

Weather sensors

Counting raindrops

Flow meters

People have been making wine for at least 9,000 years. In California's Napa Valley, a few winemakers are turning to tech to help improve the process. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Palmaz Vineyards has its own supercomputer to help conditions inside its fermentation tanks. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

The Palmaz family bought the vineyard in 1997 and built an underground facility into Mount George in Napa.

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

The complex facility of tunnels and tanks took seven years to excavate and build. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Palmaz's facility is about 18 stories underground and comes in at about 100,000 square feet. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

The outside was built with rocks salvaged during excavation. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

There's even a rotating carousel of fermentation tanks, topped by a 54-foot-high dome. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Palmaz has its own supercomputer, called Fermentation Intelligent Logic Control System (FILCS, pronounced Felix). FILCS monitors everything that's happening inside the winery's fermentation tanks. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Data from each of the 24 fermentation tanks is projected onto the dome for winemakers to see. Those tanks sit on a rotating carousel underneath the dome.

Caption by / Photo by Erin Carson/CNET

Workers sort through the grapes during harvest time. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Wine is kept in barrels and stored at around 63 degrees Fahrenheit until it's bottled.

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

The walls of the tunnels are covered with gunite, the same material that's used to line swimming pools. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Palmaz Vineyards covers 64 acres. 

Caption by / Photo by Erin Carson/CNET

The busiest time for all wineries in California's Napa and Sonoma counties is crush season, typically in September. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Tourists come to the California's wine country for the scenery, too. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Palmaz also uses a system called Vineyard Infrared Growth Optical Recognition, or VIGOR, that tells the winemakers how the different vines are maturing.  

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Twice a week, a plane from a local flight school takes multispectral images of the vines. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

Winemakers can track grapes growing in different parts of the property. 

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

They know which grapes are where and VIGOR also helps them know how much water and sun the grapes are getting.

Caption by / Photo by Palmaz Vineyards

The author learns about the different variables that can affect a wine's taste and smell. 

Caption by / Photo by Celso Bulgatti/CNET

The Grace Benoist Ranch vineyard, which grows grapes for the different labels owned by Australia's Treasury Wine Estates, is also experimenting with technology. 

Caption by / Photo by Treasury Wine Estates

This property covers about 200 planted acres in Sonoma, California.

Caption by / Photo by Treasury Wine Estates

Like many vineyards, Grace Benoist Ranch uses a tractor-like machine called a Pellenc Grape Harvester that can cultivate, harvest, destem, pull and mow — and can reach across three rows of vines when fully extended. 

Caption by / Photo by Treasury Wine Estates

The vineyard also has different kinds of sensors scattered among the blocks of vines. 

Caption by / Photo by Treasury Wine Estates

Grace Benoist Ranch is experimenting with solar-powered weather sensors that can take readings on things like ambient air temperature and the temperature of the vines.

Caption by / Photo by Arable

The top works like a drum skin and can count the number of raindrops that hit it.

Caption by / Photo by Erin Carson/CNET

Grace Benoist is also testing flow meters to help them determine how much to water different vines. 

Caption by / Photo by Erin Carson/CNET
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