Read Between the Wines: Equipping the Wine Industry with Data-Driven Insights

In 2017, wine drinkers around the world indulged in a whopping 25,279,162 liters, or 18,959,372 bottles, of the delicious beverage. While a glass (or two) of the nectar of the gods goes down easy, making it is not quite as simple. Behind every bottle is a winemaker, carefully honing his or her craft to create the right blend of flavors to please the palette. Educating those winemakers is The Leed Platinum Teaching and Research Winery at the University of California, Davis. Founded with two goals in mind, the winery was built in 2011 to be the most advanced and sustainable winery in the world. Thanks to some innovative practices and the PI System, UC Davis is setting a new standard for wineries and winemakers around the world.

Wine-making is complex, relying on the right grapes, perfect timing and stringent processes. After grapes are harvested they're prepared, or pressed, for fermentation. During fermentation, grapes are stored in tanks while yeast converts the majority of sugars in the grape juice into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Everything from temperature to oxygen to Co2 buildup is measured while the winemaker monitors the speed of fermentation. Any deviation has the potential to decrease quality or even ruin entire batches. 

wine barrelsHowever, winemaking doesn't just require precise processes; it requires resources such as water and power. Fermentation tanks must be cleaned between batches and, without water, production is slowed or even halted. In addition, during demand periods, the cost of power skyrockets, affecting the cost of wine.

With 166 fermentation tanks operating on different schedules all located in the drought-prone state of California, the UC Davis winery turned to data to hedge against the risks of the trade. Using the PI System, winemakers monitor each fermentation tank and analyze real-time data to predict future batch issues-enabling them to make adjustments before spoilage occurs. In addition, through a network of solar panels and energy storage, the winery monitors energy production against demand, helping mitigate peak charges. Using a data-driven filtration process, the winery captures rainwater, stores it and makes it potable, enabling the winery to continue production even in the event of an extreme drought. 

Thanks to real-time data from the PI System, the UC Davis teaching winery is setting the standard for quality and sustainability, paving the way to a brighter future for winemakers and consumers alike. 

Learn more about how The Leed Platinum Teaching and Research Winery at UC Davis is using the PI system here.