You may remember the late Orson Welles’ tagline from the 1970s Paul Masson commercials: “We will sell no wine before its time.”
The sentiment makes compelling advertising copy but, as any vintner knows, the art of properly ageing wine can’t be bottled in a snappy catchphrase. Beyond soil quality and climate, proper temperature control can make or break a specific vintage.
“That’s all fascinating but, this is DroneLife, not Wine Spectator,” you say? You’ve probably guessed by now — drones are helping wineries avoid selling their wines before their time.
A recent study in Remote Sensing tackled the question – How can a vintner achieve optimal cellar temperature without wasting energy?
The study notes:
“The introduction of modern cooling systems to the wine industry has allowed excellent wines to be produced almost anywhere in the world, with a high degree of independence from the surrounding climate. However, energy use during wine production still represents a high percentage of the total electricity used by the winery.”
Many wineries have returned to the tried-and-true method of using old wine cellars (“buried or semi-buried structures”) to achieve optimal ambient temperatures. But that raises another problem. Many older cellars have thermal inconsistencies in their construction that get worse over time – an issue that can only be detected with precise thermal sensors.
Last year, researchers from Madrid and Lugo, Spain launched a combined drone/ground survey to create a heat-data map over a semi-buried wine cellar built in the 1920s in O Saviñao.
Using a Drone Quasar UAV equipped with FLIR thermal imagery sensors, the team programmed the quadcopter to fly an autonomous flight path over the entire structure while a technician mapped out the crowded interior using a handheld, pole-mounted camera.
“The capture of some images was planned to be done in a simultaneous manner to obtain comparative thermal measurements, not with the objective of assessing performance. Nevertheless, in this study, the efficiency of the drone far outweighed the performance of the work done with the pole. The total numbers of images taken outside with the drone and with the pole-mounted camera were 321 and 110, respectively, for the same time of acquisition.”
The captured data allowed the team to find several quality issues with the cellar:
“Air leakages beside the door and above the window, which heat the surface of the surrounding walls, differences in the thicknesses of the upper and lower door leaves, thermal radiation reflected by the ceramic tiles, which introduces noise into the image, and an area between floor joists with missing insulation.”
The final results equipped researchers to make several recommendations to fix the issues and ensure a quality vintage using less energy.
“The drone-mounted camera allows for exhaustive image capture, including in the most difficult-to-access areas of the cellar, such as the roofs, without compromising the safety of the operator.”
Bonus: Here’s Orson Welles filming a Paul Masson after too much “research.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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