Drones may be the bane of the FAA—and for parents, birthday gift lists—but in the wine world, the ever-more prevalent technology may be able to play a key role in increasing the yield and quality of grapes.
Fortune recently wrote about Hahn Estate Winery, a thousand-plus acre vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands of California. This past year, the winery tested out new farming technology that uses a model airplane–size drone fitted with visual and multispectral sensors to analyze crop data. The system, which also utilizes ground sensors, is able to report on several indicators of grape health, including canopy cover, temperature and moisture.
This time around, Hahn only volunteered part of its acreage for the companies behind the developing technology—PrecisionHawk and Verizon—to test it out. But the vineyard seemed happy with the results. “We’re getting a clearer picture of what’s going on at the vineyard,” Hahn’s director of viticulture Andy Mitchell told Fortune. “We want to apply this to all of our acres.”
Yes, on the consumer end of things, it’d probably be more fun to develop drones that could bring wine directly to our houses. But until then, I guess it couldn’t hurt to use the technology to make the wines we’re buying better.