Aerial video: Farming vineyards from an airplane

by on September 1, 2010

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As part of our quest to continuously improve wine quality, we embarked on a soil mapping study of our estate vineyards in 2009. That summer, John Jordan began taking Assistant Winemaker Ronald Du Preez and myself up in his Beechcraft Bonanza airplane to access our vineyard blocks from a bird’s eye view. The aerial view of the vineyards, captured in this video, offers insight into soil and vine vigor changes not as visible at the ground level. Because our precision farming philosophy requires nurturing vineyard blocks on a vine-by-vine basis, we utilize any tool available. Since John has had his pilot’s license since age 17, we can quickly and conveniently fly over the estate for this insightful exercise. The aerial photos we take from the airplane will be used to compare changes in vine growth, leaf color and soil color against the soil mapping study findings. Then we can adjust our vineyard management practices to help unevenly growing vines become uniform with our finest vines. Mildly stressed vineyards with uniformly grown and ripened grapes produce higher quality wines.

A video about soil maps and their importance to winemaking will be published soon.

  • Lisa Mattson

    This was our first attempt at HD video in an airplane. We used a Canon 5D with a Fat Gecko mounted to the window. Canon lens with image stabilizer on.

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  • Ron Saikowski

    How accurate are the SCS Soils Maps in your area compared to what you have found from your aerial mapping and viewing? What Soils series go best with which grapes? What impact are pests having on your vineyard?

  • Lisa Mattson

    Hi Ron,
    Thanks for your inquiry.
    I’m checking with Brent and will get back to you.

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  • Lisa

    Grazie mille!

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