How Earth Observation Can Tackle Climate Change – The Views of Terroir From Space

The impact of Climate Change on viticulture is now widely acknowledged. From increased mean temperatures to more extreme weather events, Climate Change is having a negative impact on some of Europe’s most prestigious appellations (think of this year’s extreme frost phenomenon that hit France and parts of Italy extremely hard, including in areas traditionally spared from such events like the southern Rhone).

With Global Warming, studies are unanimous in pointing to the consequences of higher temperatures with higher phenolic maturity, and sometimes over-ripeness associated with unsustainably high alcohol levels.  This will continue in the future, and adaptation is inevitable if Europe is to preserve its viticultural heritage and continue to pride itself as the lead continent for quality wine.

Winemakers have already started implementing measures to mitigate the effects of Global Warming. These include things like canopy management or doing away with the traditional East-West planting so as to reduce risks associated with overexposure to heat and sun rays. Winemakers may also find comfort in vinification which allows them to correct for some of nature’s idiosyncrasies.

But as wine yields in famous wine appellations are compromised year on year because of extreme weather events, and with warming temperatures creating the potential for new terroirs, some winemakers are already starting to look at new sites for their dream vineyard. While higher altitude, stable hydrometry and north-facing exposure may seem appropriate for warmer climates, the opposite is true for colder regions where new winemakers are popping up by the day. In addition, while everyone may be familiar with English sparkling, little attention is being paid to the fact that the number of wineries has expanded almost tenfold in countries like Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. Need we even mention Canada, Tasmania and parts of China, whose wines are now starting to reach consistent maturity across vintages?

While wine and data may not intuitively seem to belong to the same semantic field, you would be amazed at how much can be measured nowadays. Precision viticulture techniques have become the mainstream among the finest winemakers, with in situ data providing accurate real-time representations of what is going on in a given vineyard. Accordingly, drones hold great capabilities and high-precision sensors; however, drones are still dependent on Human-operators and pre-planned flight programming. But few have yet to realize just how much can be achieved with huge and, for the most part, freely available datasets derived from Earth Observation.

Terroir from Space has taken up that challenge bringing together wine aficionados with data geeks. Our business model is global, and on top of all sustainable: this means we will save fuel and reduce the CO2 footprint; all of that would be impossible if we would have to fly around the world to study and report on local vineyards by foot. Satellites are intrinsically capable of delivering a higher spatial coverage and create a historical imagery set capable of assessing the evolution of the area monitored.

Despite our early-stage status, we are developing steadily, looking forward to reaching the market soon and with innovative service. The nature of the challenge is multi-layered, as we have seen, and that is why we are so dedicated to rising to the opportunity. As a sustainable company, we wholeheartedly believe in circular economies and boosting the development of rural areas with sustainable practices. Terroir from Space is a family that puts sustainability on top of its priorities, and facing the harmful effects of Global Warming is coded within our DNA.

Modern winemaking, in the age of Climate Change, calls for ‘root innovative solutions’, this is why we offer a “Full Terroir Planning Service”: starting directly from “identifying” the right terroir, we use our A.I. engine with access to optimal historical weather patterns, customizable parcel properties (solar and wind expositions, minerality from seashores, etc…) to ensure the best possible match of the optimal terroir against the desired grape varieties, ensuring stable, high-quality products across the years. Following the identification of the parcels, we work with our international legal partners to offer the possibility of acquiring the target lands in a streamlined, effortless manner. Following this step, we coordinate with our network of partners to ensure the preparation of the grounds and all the needed work to ready them for the plantation of the new vineyard. Thus, the new, optimal terroirs are delivered to the customers fully prepared for future production and will be the target of constant monitoring until ideal productivity. Because new challenges require out-of-the-box solutions, we, therefore, offer a “keys-in-hand” service, a sector revolution.

As for the future, our solution spans a variety of actors and is not limited to a particular type of crop. In the long run, we aim to tap into more actors across the supply chain (from growing to retail). We also plan to apply our A.I. model to other crops that depend on specific growing conditions and are affected by Climate Change (coffee, cocoa, tobacco, fruit trees and livestock). In essence, our solution aims to minimize climate-induced risk and optimize the geographical location for agricultural production.

By Terroir from Space

As signatories to the Porto Protocol’s Letter of Principles, we sole heartedly believe that our technologies will positively impact the future of the winemaking industry.


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