Good wine comes from quality grapes. Whatever the variety, grapevines need the right climate and soil composition to thrive.

Hydric stress plays a huge role in the quality of the vintage. Too little water causes vine stress while too much can cause leaching, disease and a costly waste of energy and fertiliser.

The late Denis Dubourdieu, winemaker and professor of oenology at University of Bordeaux, outlined two of the widely-accepted criteria for a great vintage as being:

  1. Sufficient hydric stress at fruit-set to limit the growth of the young berries and determine their future tannic content.
  2. Cessation of vegetative growth of the vine before colour change, imposed by limited hydric stress and therefore allowing all the goodness from the root to flow into the grapes and not unproductive growth.

The challenge is to get the soil balance right. Whether the site consists of silt, sand, clay, rock or limestone – a fruitful vineyard is one that has good drainage and a reliable soil management system.

In a competitive global market where buyers expect consistent quality, leading wine producers use data to gain real time insight into soil conditions.

Soil data is collected using sensors integrated into probes that are installed in the ground. The data is then automatically transmitted to the winemaker’s computer over 3G or 4G using a NetComm Wireless M2M device.

The technology allows winemakers to view trend line stress and predict water and fertiliser requirements through the remote measurement, monitoring and analysis of soil moisture, salinity and temperature.

It’s all about having the tools available to make the right decisions, at the right time. When to water, when to fertilise and when to prune and pick.

You may not be able to control the weather, but you can manage its impact with smart soil monitoring.