With the goal of developing VineForecast in close exchange with the winemakers in order to make the product practical for winemakers as effectively and quickly as possible, we went on tour in mid-November, to visit various wineries. In the process, we met with various winegrowers from the Nahe, Moselle and Middle Rhine winegrowing regions.
Old friends on the Nahe
We started our tour at the Mathern winery in Niederhausen on the Nahe. Already in childhood we danced around there in the courtyard of the winery. Later, Paul visited the winery again on his 10,000km bicycle trip through Europe and helped then for a few days with tying the vines in spring.
Together with Gloria Mathern, the manager of the winery, and her son Henning, we had the opportunity to discuss VineForecast extensively. At the same time, we were invited to a local winegrowers' table where we met many other winegrowers and gained new insights into viticulture as well as discussed various ideas about digitization in viticulture.
A meteorologist becomes a steep slope winemaker
Following the visit of the winegrowers from the Nahe, we went on to the Moselle. There we visited Philipp Franzen and Irina Akimova from Steilgut. Between 2015 and 2016, Paul researched and studied together with Philipp and Irina on Spitsbergen in the Arctic. Philipp, who like Paul is a meteorologist, is currently building his own winery with his girlfriend Irina. Currently, their wines come from the Neefer Frauenberg and the Bremmer Calmont, the steepest vineyard in Europe. So the name Steilgut ("Steep winery") says it all.
Together with Philipp's cousin and cellar master from the Franzen winery, Kilian Franzen, we discussed the microclimatic characteristics of the Bremmer Calmont. We gained exciting insights into how small-scale differences in topography (e.g. slope and orientation) significantly influence the susceptibility to vine diseases in certain locations. It is precisely these small-scale differences that we want to quantify and better estimate with VineForecast on an area-wide basis and not just selectively.
Winery Weingart - new approaches in viticulture
The most recent visit was to the Weingart winery in Spay on the Middle Rhine. Florian and Ulrike Weingart have built their winery according to many new and innovative concepts. For example, the winery's cellar is built directly into the vineyard. In this way, the temperature of the earth keeps the cellar cool in summer and warm in winter. This allows constant temperatures throughout the year.
The wines of the winery can in turn be tasted in a Tiny House on wheels. Since we are also interested in this novel living concept, we exchanged our passions and ideals beyond the technical conversation. What a great end to this very enlightening trip!