Let me start off by stating that I am an absolute novice when it comes to GIS (Geographical Information Systems). I know my way around QGIS and ESRI ARCGIS a bit, but only the stuff that I need to know.

The fun thing with GIS is that you constantly learn something new. Be it a new tool, a new shortcut, or an awesome new way to display your data.

I started using GIS systems to manage vineyards about eight years ago when I was still working at Darling Cellars. Back then I was very new to the world of GIS, and the data sets were very hard to come by.

The software is generally easy to understand and use – you just need to know which buttons to push..

The basics

Okay, so what do I want to achieve with using GIS systems? Well, when I started with this I was fresh out of University and it was my first job as a Viticulturist. I had no experience. No framework or reference system. I though geez, this is going to take forever to understand how the different blocks in my region will react towards climate, soil differences, canopy management etc.

I was fascinated by the older viticulturists. They knew exactly what was going on in each block. How the wine would be, how to manage the block, the quality of the fruit, the yields. It seemed they knew everything! I must be honest, I was intimidated.

But, being a very impatient, impulsive and progressive type of guy, I knew there had to be a way that I can get this info, this experience, in a shorter time frame, and use this to further myself as a viticulturist. And there was a way – Technology. By using Satellites, airplanes and terrain models you are able to predict quite a lot more than you would think. Still, this doesn’t just happen from behind a computer, getting into the vineyards, analysing the models and linking it with the end result – the wine, this is what it’s all about. All of this might not make sense now, but in the coming posts I will show the power of GIS, and try to explain how we can use this to make better and better wine.


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