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07.30.2005

Motes In The Vineyard: The Next Big Thing

Start the Mission Impossible theme song and put on your night vision goggles, because spy technology is coming soon to a vineyard near you. OK maybe not spy technology per se, but a pretty cool new technology called wireless mesh sensor networks. I've written about them briefly before on Vinography, but they're apparently now ready for prime time.

A wireless mesh sensor network is basically a whole bunch of little sensors, sometimes known as "motes" or "nodes," about the size of a quarter that are placed in regular intervals anywhere from 30 to 500 feet apart in the vineyard. These sensors are wirelessly connected to the internet and to each other, and are capable of measuring temperature, moisture, and several other variables, depending on the installation. By aggregating the data from all of these sensors, vintners can get an idea of the micro-climates within the vineyard as well as the state of the overall vineyard. With more data, theoretically, comes the ability to make different decisions about when to water, fertilize, etc.

Will this make for better wine? Not sure. Like any new technology it can be used for evil as well as good. That is, I assume that winemakers and growers can get to the point where there are too many things to pay attention to or the possibility of just trying too hard. Some would say, and rightly so, we've been growing grapes pretty well for thousands of years.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.