Inaugurated in 2014, the Center is aiming to position itself as a global and national leader in wine research. Today, it is developing more than 50 initiatives among which technological solutions to predict harvest volume, optimize defoliation and obtain higher quality, as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon clones project in Cauquenes, stand out. All of this research will have an effect on the Chilean wine industry in the short term.
A year and a half after its inauguration, Viña Concha y Toro’s Center for Research and Innovation (CRI) presented the progress made in the main lines of research which it is conducting for the first time.
Located in the heart of the Maule Region, in the municipality of Pencahue, the Center was created with the objective of conducting applied research based on the real needs of the industry in order to increase its competitiveness and success in the face of new challenges.
Three of the iconic research projects which will have an effect on the wine industry in the short term were presented: the use of drones in agricultural tasks, the GRAPPE App and the suitability of different Cabernet Sauvignon clones. In addition to these, a total of more than 50 initiatives in different stages of development are being conducted, which are framed within one of the five Strategic Programs that guide the CRI’s research: Strengthening the production area of plant materials; Water resources and scarcity management; Quality assessment of grapes and wines; Instrumentation, automation and IT applications; and New products design.
“At the Center for Research and Innovation, we developed a Strategic Plan 2016-2020 which will serve as a roadmap to position Viña Concha y Toro as a leader in research, development and innovation in the global wine industry. Today we presented the progress made in research projects, and without doubt we will achieve concrete results that will have a significant effect on the wine industry in the future,” says Gerard Casaubon, Director of the CRI.
High impact research
One of the CRI’s focuses has been adapting technology which is available in the market to the specific needs of the wine industry. An example of this is the use of drones for agricultural tasks, specifically for the prediction of yield. This is one of the most complex stages of the winegrowing process, as it impacts on the resources of all business areas.
To support this process and achieve a 90% accuracy rate in predictions in the short term, the Center created a complex artificial intelligence model which receives, processes and stores information. The drone is used to capture vine vigor, which is a fundamental indicator to achieve precision in the prediction.
Another example is the development of a Smartphone application to support defoliation, an activity which involves removing the foliage where the clusters are located in order to regulate the amount of sunlight that the grapes receive. With the correct level of sun exposure, grapes generate a greater quantity of phenolic compounds to produce good quality wines.
The GRAPPE app enables images of the foliage before and after defoliation to be obtained, which are analyzed on site, providing a light exposure variation index for the grape clusters.
GRAPPE will strengthen the monitoring and supervision of defoliation operations by supervisors, and will generate a historic record of defoliation activities in each vineyard to support the decision-making process.
On the other hand, a study on the behavior of Cabernet Sauvignon clones brought from France is currently being conducted in Cauquenes in order to improve the productivity and quality of the grapes and wine. The vines are planted on experimental plots, where scientific tests are conducted to determine which produce better quality grapes under local climate conditions.
The study aims to determine which Cabernet Sauvignon clone should be planted to increase vineyard output and optimize quality by 2017. With this information, the Chilean wine industry will have access to key support for decision-making in the vineyard.
In terms of outreach, which is essential to disseminate information and have an impact on its main stakeholders, since its inauguration in 2014 the Center has conducted a series of free activities open to the general public as part of its outreach program, in order to directly benefit the development of the industry. Among these activities, international seminars, theoretical and practical activities oriented towards grape growers, and talks by members of the academic community stand out, positioning it as a backdrop for the dissemination of research findings, outreach and transfer high impact knowledge and excellence, as well as a space to connect with the community and diverse stakeholders which form part of the industry.