Delicato Family Vineyards: Integrating Ag Tech from Soil to Glass

Delicato Family Vineyards, Manteca, CA.
Delicato Family Vineyards in Manteca, CA, is leveraging precision ag technology to tailor its management practices to optimize grape production.

Tucked away amidst the softly rolling green hills of California’s uber-productive Central Coast Valley, Delicato Family Vineyards (DFV) is quite literally smack dab in the middle of the convergence of precision ag technology and California’s always-growing viticulture industry.

To the northwest sits the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, ground-zero for technology innovation currently in the U.S. Beyond that is the famed Napa Valley wine making region, where simply slapping the region’s namesake on a wine label can make a HUGE difference in how much a vintner can market that bottle of wine for around the country.

His office housed in a modest prefabricated trailer a stone’s throw from DFV’s on-location formulation plant, flanked by over 2,000 acres of permanent grape “blocks” (individual wine fields) and another 1,300 acres of yet-to-be-planted ground, DFV senior viticulturist Gregory Brun — perhaps yet another example of the always evolving makeup of agriculture’s trusted advisor role — is tasked with heading up the third-generation, family-owned vintner’s continued foray into ag tech.

Stepping into his office, one immediately notices Brun’s desk is surrounded by thickly bound books on viticulture, Trimble GIS gadgets, aerial maps, iPads, and other mobile technology platforms. A quick look around gives the impression that DFV is quite serious about leveraging technology to ensure its offerings meet self-imposed quality standards, as Brun so succinctly states on the day of our visit back in March with a thick French accent befitting a viticulturist, “all the way from soil to glass.”

That means Electro Conductivity (EC) soil zone mapping with the Geonics EM-38 sensor (aka managing different parts of the field for variability in the water-holding capacity of the various soil types) to make zone-based irrigation scheduling decisions, weekly aerial imagery integration with ESRI’s GIS platform, as well as deploying Simplot’s SmartFarm software for georeferenced soil sampling data to base in-season (wine grapes are always in-season, hence why they are referred to as permanent crops) nutrient and crop protection product recommendations.

The amount of ag tech cookie jars that Brun has his hands in on a daily basis is somewhat daunting to wrap one’s head around.

But again, this is all being done in the name of matching different wine varietals to variety-specific, optimized production practices, to find the perfect DFV brand fit for specific grapes. In our Midwestern-focused, row crop world within PrecisionAg® Professional’s traditional audience, I’m not sure the corn and bean guys are quite at that level of granularity just yet (no offense, corn and bean guys).

It’s something that I’d guess isn’t too easy without robust data integration to back up Brun’s wine-making expertise.

Gregory Brun, Mapping at computer
Gregory Brun, Senior viticulturist at Delicato Family Vineyards, Manteca, CA, uses mapping to make zone-based irrigation scheduling decisions.

“In order to do that,” Brun says of DFV’s ongoing ag tech play. “Mapping and understanding better the interaction between the land, the climate and the soil, we’re looking for certain…you want to source well, and be able to supply in an economically sustainable way.”

Aside from the soil sensors and irrigation lines and sprinklers, and all the other hardware that DFV deploys in its wine blocks, Simplot’s SmartFarm provides a two-fold value to both Brun and his corporate counterparts with DFV.

“With it we can build the grids, take samples at specific points, map what we get from these samples and extrapolate the data from there,” Brun explains. “All of those things basically are valid, but they are better when we can extrapolate correctly, and so I think there are two goals with our Simplot partnership: the first goal is to extrapolate correctly the information that we get from soil sampling.

“And second,” he adds. “Is to have in one place the information available, not only for me or my team but for the whole company to look at from different perspectives, whether it’s the wine makers or core operations departments. Since it’s a corporate environment you have splits between different departments, communication is very important.”

Producing about 10 million cases of wine annually on ground that typically goes for around $30,000 per acre, DFV needs precision technology to ensure consistent production levels across the many blocks Brun and his team manage. As far as its level of adoption in context with other area growers, Simplot Grower Solutions Advisor III Martin Johnson, who hosted us for the day and helps DFV with its SmartFarm integration efforts, likes to characterize area growers with his 2-6-2 rule.

“In this area out of 10 growers I’d probably say two are like Delicato, embracing a lot of different technologies and kind of on the cutting edge of things, six are actively looking at ag tech and wondering how it would look on their operation, and the other two don’t want to hear it yet,” he explains.

“Dealing with variability is very difficult,” Brun explains when asked what drove DFV’s technology pursuits early-on. “Water is so important here in California, and we need to smooth out these variabilities in order to get our irrigation right.”

Leave a Reply

Precision Irrigation Stories
Valley Irrigation 8000 series corn
Precision IrrigationValley Irrigation Now Exclusive OEM Provider of Trimble’s Irrigate-IQ
March 21, 2017
Valley Irrigation and Trimble announced that Valley Irrigation will become the exclusive OEM distributor of Trimble’s Irrigate-IQ precision irrigation solution, according Read More
Precision IrrigationGrowingProduce.com: Smart Vineyards Set to Revolutionize Wine-making
February 17, 2017
Phil Asmundson is by no means a veteran viticulturist, but a half-dozen years ago, after watching his wife and business Read More
InternationalPrecision Irrigation Company Hortau Makes THRIVE Top 50 Growth Rankings
February 2, 2017
Hortau, a provider of precision irrigation management systems and services for agriculture since 2002, continues its rapid growth heading into Read More
GuidanceT-L Irrigation Launches GPS Navigation Linear System with RTK
February 1, 2017
T-L Irrigation Co., the exclusive manufacturer of hydrostatically powered pivot irrigation systems, is pleased to announce the availability of its Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Quantix Drone Farmer
DronesTop 10 Most Intriguing Technologies in Agriculture
June 3, 2017
This may be a bit of stating the obvious here, but we’ll throw it out there anyways: as much as Read More
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision Ag Means For Growers
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
Mung beans Australia
InternationalPrecision Ag in a Tough Season in Australia
May 8, 2017
This year’s summer crop season has been a tough one for most growers in Australia. Prolonged periods of high temperatures Read More
Latest News
Cotton closeup
Imagery/SensingCotton Growth Management with Precision Agriculture
June 20, 2017
A cotton crop presents some important differences to other commodities that are widely produced in Brazil, such as soybean and Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsCNBC: Inside Amazon’s Whole Foods Takeover
June 20, 2017
Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods sent the stock of competing grocery chains plummeting. To understand why, you need to know Read More
DronesNavigating a New World: Drone Technology in Agriculture…
June 20, 2017
My first exposure to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was as a master’s student at Kansas State University. I was researching Read More
Precision Ag Innovation Series
EventsInnovation Series Agenda Zeroes In On Maximizing Key Se…
June 14, 2017
In a recent survey of service providers conducted by PrecisionAg® Professional magazine, more than seven in 10 indicated that variable Read More
Soil Scientists
Data ManagementAccessing USDA Soil Data for Precision Farming
June 13, 2017
Many precision farming websites have integrated the USDA NRCS soil survey database using the USDA Soil Data Access web portal. Read More
GEOSYS In-Season Imagery
Decision Support SoftwareGeosys Announces Imagery and Weather Data Offering
June 13, 2017
Geosys, a provider of agronomic decision support tools, today launched Geosys Labs, a new program that will make its global Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Decision Support SoftwareMyriad Mobile Raises $1.5 Million to Launch New Ag-Tech…
June 12, 2017
Myriad Mobile, a software technology company focused on mobile and web applications, has raised $1.5 million in a Pre-Series A Read More
center-pivot-irrigation-drop-sprinklers-on-corn
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable-Rate Fertigation Can Be Simple
June 12, 2017
A rule is a rule is a rule, right? Well, not always. Sometimes, rules are meant to be changed. Most Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Sensors/IoTLeveraging IoT to Improve Data Collection for Agricultu…
June 12, 2017
Between population growth and climate change, farms of all sizes are being challenged to increase yields. Internet of Things (IoT) Read More
DronesAg Drone Update: The Hunt for 1,000 (OPINION)
June 10, 2017
Having obtained my FAA Part 107 Commercial Drone Operators license back in September of last year, I’ve spent the past Read More
Industry NewsMergers & Acquisitions: Land O’Lakes Tosses E…
June 9, 2017
Land O’Lakes has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision solution provider Read More
Mixmate-featured-image
Decision Support SoftwareHandy Software, Hardware for the Field
June 7, 2017
More than two decades ago, Iowa grower Doug Applegate wished for a “little portable chemical blending system” that could easily Read More
Decision Support SoftwareHarnessing A Team To Build Your Own Software
June 7, 2017
What’s a powerhouse retail network to do when it can’t find a software system to meet incredibly diverse needs? Build Read More
Tim Ferrell Marshall County Co-op
Decision Support SoftwareWhen It’s Time To Switch Software
June 7, 2017
No one in their right mind wants to change software. That’s the opinion of Tim Ferrell, manager of Marshall County Read More
PA Special Report Enterprise
Decision Support SoftwareSpecial Report: Enterprise Management Systems
June 7, 2017
A functional and stable software system can allow a retail operation to run at maximum efficiency, build customer loyalty and Read More
Farming big data style
ProfessionalsAre You REALLY a Precision Farming #Agvocate? This Summ…
June 6, 2017
Go Feed Yourself. That’s the catchphrase of my favorite ag Twitter personality, Shark Farmer (@sf28430), who besides bringing plenty of Read More