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High-tech wineVines turn into amazing wine with some high-tech support. Find out how some winemakers are using technology to optimize and improve the quality of their product, for greater efficiencies in production.
-In the hills and valleys of Northern California's wine country, vintners are using new tech tools to help them in the winemaking process. At Dana Estates in the Napa Valley, had winemaker Cameron Vawter is using a technology from Oakland-based Fruition Sciences. It can essentially measure a vine's heartbeat using sensors. -And we're basically measuring the sap that is flowing from the roots all the way up through the vine and out the leaves and by measuring the sap and the flow of that sap, we can get an idea whether the vine is under stress and limiting itself or whether it's essentially running just fine. And so, using that, we can make decisions about whether we add irrigation or whether we would hold irrigation. -Underneath this foam right here is this device right here which measures the flow of the sap through the vine and the way that it works is that we have two temperature sensors, one at the beginning, one at the end and then we have a heating element here in the middle. -Okay. -And so by measuring the difference for the sap going in to the sap going out, we can tell how much sap is flowing through the vine. -The data is gathered from the vine and displayed on this software out. It shows on a detailed graph how much water is needed by the month, by the day, even by the minute. -How much of a competitive advantage is this? How much of a difference does it make in the quality of the wine? -It can make a huge difference in the quality of the wine. Working with this technology, we started dry farming a lot of our vineyards and I have vineyards today that are still to this day have not irrigated this year and 2013 is a very dry vintage in the Napa Valley and especially here at Dana Estates. And so, it can make a real difference. -So, that's how you make great grapes but making great grapes doesn't necessarily guarantee great wine. So, we visited Palmaz Winery where they're developing new tech to keep an eye on the grapes once they get inside fermentation tanks. To do that, Christian Palmaz and his family have been a fermentation dome that stands as the world's largest underground reinforced structure or the equivalent of an 18-storey building. It's basically like a giant wine bat cave. Inside, there are 24 fermenters. Each of which represents the unique flavors or terroirs of their vineyards. -So, when you have 24 tanks in a-- the complexity of course goes up. So, we decided to build a system that helps them make decisions algorithmically. In a general sense, we believe fermentation should be a constant rate of change over time. So, that information goes into what we call the fermentation schedule because you plug this. The computer takes this information and build a trend graph, so we can control things like supply temperature, mixing temperatures. -And what do you think is the result? I mean, so if you were trying to manage 24 tanks with no help, would you have 4 great ones and 20 okay ones, you think? -I think what would happen is we have more mistakes. -All of the tanks are connected to iPads or iPhones so those winemakers can be mobile while monitoring their product 24/7. -Using the iPads at the tank means you don't have to walk back to your laboratory to get the information you need. It's all there on screen. You make the decision while you have you know, the sample in your hand. For example, there are 220 valves behind all these tanks and they fail sometimes. So, from home, you get the alert and you just come here, you pull up the valve and you manually close it. We can go back, we can learn from potential mistakes that we committed in the past and the system can help in a way help predict problems before they occur. -Which in the end is really the whole idea?