Behind the Scenes

Aerial Farming: Monitoring Vineyards from an Airplane

As part of our quest to continuously improve wine quality, we embarked on a soil mapping study of Jordan Estate vineyards in 2009. That summer, John Jordan began taking our assistant winemaker 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 aerial farming 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, monitoring vineyards with 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.

9 Comments
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.

(Reply)
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(Reply)
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?

(Reply)
Lisa Mattson

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

(Reply)
Precision Pays

[…] here’s a blog post about the soil mapping study. related topics: Education, Remote sensing, Video, […]

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Lisa

Grazie mille!

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Brent Young

A 2005 harvest intern who returned to Jordan full-time as viticulturist in 2008. Now Director of Agricultural Operations in charge of estate vineyards, precision farming and cattle. Spends free time showing cutting horses and restoring vintage cars, especially Woodies.

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