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Wine growers call in help from satellites

Matthew Warren · 29 Aug 2011, 08:06

Published: 29 Aug 2011 09:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Aug 2011 08:06 GMT+02:00

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As grape-picking season gets started in some areas for this year's wine harvest, more French wine-growers are using satellite technology to improve the quality and profitability of their wine.

The satellite-based Oenoview system takes a picture from 800 kilometres above the earth that can give a precise breakdown of the quality and quantity of vines, newspaper Aujourd'hui reports. The infrared images show the extent of vine growth, how much water is in the fruit and can help determine when grapes are ready to harvest.

The data can also help vintners manage their crops to increase yields and improve the quality of the finished product.

“The benefit is improved profitability by not mixing grapes of average and excellent quality,” said Jérome Hourdel, from the Wine Cooperative Institute (ICV), which has developed the technology in partnership with Astrium, a subsidiary of aerospace giant EADS.

Jean-Pierre Drieux, a vintner in the Gascony region of southwest France also known for its foie gras and Armagnac, is using it for the first year. He believes it should be seen as a valuable addition to centuries-old expertise.

“It’s a great complementary tool,” he told the newspaper, “but it can’t replace the human hand.”

Fifty wine-growers are now reported to be using the tool, mostly in the south of France.

Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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