Romantic Technology – an oxymoron?

The pictures below show the winemaker’s workplace.   From his or her desk the winemaker can pull up any tank on the LCD screen and check any number of variables.  They can e-mail job sheets out to the cellar hands asking for additions to be made or settings changed.   The winery is a factory not unalike a milk treatment facility.   It’s a far cry from traditional notions of barefoot grape stomping, old oak barrels and pottering around taste testing in a little cellar out the back of a hillside vineyard somewhere.  But it is the reality of commercial wine making today and it feels as if some of the romance has been lost.  I can’t put my finger on why I feel this.  Obviously the end product tastes more beautiful with advanced technologies ensuring it is finely filtered and perfectly balanced (no dirty feet in the brew, no foul tasting corked wine with a fancy screw top…).  There are still many people working together from multiple nationalities to make the wine – and having a ball in the process …vintage parties and rumours of new found ‘love’ are legendary.   Maybe it’s because it’s not generations of families passing on secret methods or perhaps it’s because perfection isn’t actually romantic, maybe it’s just the fast pace of it all.  What do you reckon?





8 Responses to “Romantic Technology – an oxymoron?”

  1. November 7, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    It somehow feels like when we monitor the temperatures at harvest.com, to see if the wind machines are working or not.

    So as an additional Parameter, I wonder how long it would take to add an electronic Nose to each tank, to monitor eg. if there are any reductions developing.

    So cold long fruity fermentation is one thing. But what about making ageworthy wine with great minerality and complexity… No automatic system can do that yet…


  2. November 8, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Hi Patrick,

    There is a lot of technology out there in terms of electronic noses. Gas chromatography mass spectometry springs to mind in terms of quantifying aroma levels in substances, in the lab. Not sure if these units would be be capable, in terms of general use in wineries though. I’ve also heard of the zNose in the food and beverage industry. This beast has been used to determine levels of cork taint in wine etc. I guesss one day it may become the norm in modern wineries!!

    An ‘automatic system’ to me, can mean a number of things though. A lot of winemakers do work to recipe, to create a consistant product for the market. Year in year out. Ageworthy….ness and complexity and can be easily manipulated in the cellar…so I guess for some companies this is automatic!!

    What do you think?


  3. 3 pinotworld
    November 10, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    “Ageworthy….ness and complexity and can be easily manipulated in the cellar…”

    Wow… and I always thought this criteria of quality grows in the vineyard and not in the winery.


  4. November 12, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Yes, this is true…isn’t it?

    Of course quality is grown in the vineyard, don’t get me wrong!! The winemaker can still alter the course of fruit/juice quality (in the cellar) for better or worse. Thats all I mean Pinotworld.


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