The rise of the machines: farewell to warts and all?

Wine and tech make a frequent pairing in broad-audience reporting on wine. Domestically, both the industries have a strong presence in California and they are both, well, sexy. Mmm, naked grapes swathed in algorithms!

Today’s wine and tech story that we are putting in our laser focus is a short video segment on Bloomberg. The intrepid reporter ventures to Napa Valley to check out an optical sorting machine, technology pioneered in Europe that has come to our shores for $175k a pop. Instead of having people sort the picked fruit off a vibrating sorting table, the machine runs the fruit through a destemmer, then snaps pictures and blasts offending berries off the conveyor belt with a blast of air (sometimes called the “air knife”). The final bin ultimately contains berries without blemishes. The machine is more effective at sorting the wheat from the chaff than the membership committee at the Silverado Country Club.

The reporter asks, “And the critics–why are they skeptical about this new optic [sic] sorter?” Wait, critics don’t like wines from Napa cabernet that his been sorted like this? Sounds like the resulting wine actually has got 98+ points written all over it.

So much for carbonic, semi-carbonic or whole cluster when a machine could get rid of those perceived imperfections.

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3 Responses to “The rise of the machines: farewell to warts and all?”

  1. sorting fruit after it goes thru a destemmer is actually completely pointless. Any bacteria on the berries will be spread all over the destemmer, and will therefore be spread all over every subsequent berry. you have to sort out bunches before they go through the destemmer.

    However, if you want to spend 200 grand on a fancy machine that makes you feel like your wine is better than the winery next door, then i’ve got a 98-point bridge to sell you…

  2. […] The rise of the machines: farewell to warts and all? […]

  3. I agree with you gabe. An old phrase” Missing the trees despite the forest”. Just because we have such technology, doesn’t necessarily make it better.


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