Data Driven Winemaking

The concept of being data driven means undertaking activities compelled by data, rather than intuition or personal experience. It’s a buzzword, no doubt, but with increasing ability to collect data on everything and anything, it’s important for wineries to consider how to utilize data in decision making.

If you’re a winemaker, winery operations manager or C-level, looking to create a more data driven winemaking process, this article is for you.

This article considers how Winely technology can help winemakers make decisions on their wine in the primary fermentation stage. It considers current state based on over 100 conversations with winemakers and operations managers and compares this to the Winely state based on in field tests, customer references and observed changes in practices.

Being data driven requires, firstly, data to be collected in a timely and meaningful way.

Data collection in primary fermentation is done often, generally fermentation tanks will be on at least a daily monitoring schedule, and most wineries attempt to collect two sample points a day. The highest we’ve seen is 6 samples a day and was from an absolute premium wine brand (if you break this record we would love to hear).

In current state the only way to get more data is to have more people walking around the tanks. This is problematic for a few reasons;

  1. Health and safety
  2. Human error
  3. Labour costs and labour shortages

Unfortunately, being data driven and relying on one to two data points a day is difficult. Wine is a living, biological product - in the primary fermentation stage it changes rapidly and looking for trends in the data is incredibly important. This means for a winery to become data driven, the method for data collection needs to advance.

In Winely state we use our smart, connected, hardware devices to take samples in-situ, reporting results back to any cloud-connected device. This means data collection is done, and can be viewed in real-time. The result of this is a reduction in time spent collecting data, a reduction in human error, improved health and safety practices, and of course, a step on the way to becoming a data driven winery.

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Winely's dashboard allows winemakers to track their ferments in real-time, capturing the overall fermentation trend.

Akhila hugging a Marlborough wine tank before COVID-19 lock-down

Current state of data collection

  • Manually monitor the tank farm
  • 1 to 2 samples a day

Winely state of data collection

  • Automatically monitor the tank farm
  • Thousands of data points a day

To be truly data driven, of course, it’s not enough to simply collect and look at as much data as possible - that would be incredibly overwhelming and not particularly useful. Being truly data driven means having the ability to not only collect data but understand it and make decisions on it.

Currently winemakers are using data to make decisions, but it’s not always easy. Some wineries can take up to 72 hours to collect the data, analyse it and use it to make a decision. This sounds like a long time but when you consider that it can take one person 3 to 6 hours to get around 100 tanks and sample them, and then more time again to input the data, it starts to make sense why this is happening. By the time a winemaker identifies that something is going off track (which generally requires more than one sample) it could easily be a day (two sample runs).  Put simply, winemakers have a lot of data to analyse and it’s already taking a lot of time to collect.

In Winely state wineries have no delay between collecting data and using it to make decisions. They can sit down and look at real time data coming in - giving them multiple data points to make decisions on immediately. Winely will also visualise the data points in an intuitive and easy to understand way. This makes it easier to analyse and use in decision making. With Winely you can even compare your wine fermentation performance to previously set parameters and targets, a winemaker is notified instantly if something is going ‘outside of range’ and can correct for it, you guessed it, in real-time.

Current state of decision making

  • Wait for data to come in
  • Input and analyse data
  • Make decisions on data

Time to make decision = 24- 72hrs

Winely state of decision making

  • Data reporting in real-time
  • Easy analysis tools
  • Alerts and warnings for preset fermentation parameters

Time to make decision = immediate

The main advantage of being data driven in winemaking is improved end wine quality. If we take principles of being data driven, the opportunities to optimize wine in the primary ferment using Winely becomes possible. The ability to use data to make decisions on our primary fermentations means we can react faster, detect anomalies, and optimize the fermentation process. Using Winely gives a winemaker actionable data that they can use in decision making with confidence.

Want to see for yourself? Reach out and we will be in touch about how Winely could help in your step to becoming a data driven winery.


Tech Startup Helps Wineries

As seen in Wine Industry Adviser

Jacob Manning (Winely’s CEO) carries the ready-for-installation hardware, that will monitor ferments in real-time for the 2020 vintage.

A New Zealand tech company is set to disrupt the wine industry globally. Winely, a startup working out of Otago and Marlborough is the world’s first precision wine technology company. Winely launched in 2018 has made tracks locally and in Australia providing technology to help winemakers track their wine ferments using smart sensors. “The big push for our technology was the labour shortages doing this monotonous and unsafe task. Our goal is to help the winemakers get more data and remove the need to do manual wine sampling.” CEO and founder Jacob Manning explains. Since the completion of their technology in 2018 and first harvest February this year, Winely has received a large number of local and overseas requests for their technology.

"The big push for our technology was the labour shortages doing this monotonous and unsafe task. Our goal is to help the winemakers get more data and remove the need to do manual wine sampling." - Jacob Manning (CEO)

Winely has interest from wineries across New Zealand, Barossa, South Australia and California. “These regions are experiencing a shortage in labour and increased pressure around improving health and safety practices.” Abbe Hyde, Winelys CTO reports, “The Northern Hemisphere vintage is just under way and we’re receiving inbound requests from wineries where only half their team has turned up to work.”

“These regions are experiencing a shortage in labour and increased pressure around improving health and safety practices.” - Abbe Hyde (CTO)

“We are in discussions with strategic customers and we will be fitting out their sites in 2020 and 2021. These customers have hundreds of wineries globally.” Jacob says. Winely’s team will begin installing units soon for 2020 harvest and already have interest for further fitouts in 2021.

Abbe Hyde (Winely’s CTO) in one of their customers' sites

“The payback period that our customers are projecting is incredibly short” said Manning, “because our product can do tests in seconds that currently take hours, to be done manually.”

After receiving numerous international and local awards and investment interest, Winely is now building a bigger team to help develop future emerging wine industry technologies. “We’re excited about what our technology can bring to the wine industry. We’re already planning new sensors to monitor additional ferment attributes based on customer requests,” explains Hyde. “We anticipate winemakers to be able to make faster and more accurate decisions on ferment interventions from the real-time data Winely provides”.


Introducing Winely's New Chairperson

Wine technology company Winely appoints new Chair following fundraising and continued market demand.

Winely has appointed a new Chairperson following a successful funding round and continued market support for their technology that provides wineries with real-time data on wine fermentation.

CEO Jacob Manning is pleased to welcome Nigel Bamford to the Winely team, quoting his manufacturing expertise and founder experience as timely and critical to Winely’s expansion. "It’s rare to find an entrepreneur who's done the full-founder journey. We are privileged to not only have a founder as a chairman but also an expert in process engineering and scaling hardware technologies.”

Nigel is the founder of Escea, which is based out of Dunedin and employees over 150 staff. Escea operates globally and has offices in Australia.

Nigel Bamford is an active investor in the Dunedin ecosystem and startup mentor. He has heavy involvement in early-stage startups. He is also in the Board of Startup Dunedin and the Chairperson for BISON Group.

Want to join our team? Email hr@winely.co.nz to chat!


Let's Visit Marlborough!

Beautiful view from the top of some 250,000 L tanks.

The Wine Metropolis
Marlborough Wine Region was a super exciting visit for Winely, especially because of the opportunity of speaking to the wine technology community leaders.

The need for improved health and safety practices

A beautiful view of the North Island of New Zealand but a deadly problem! Falling from this height is lethal and sampling from these 250,000 L tanks needs to be done 24/7! Wind, rain, cyclones ... and during an earthquake! It's awesome to see that our technology makes the need to climb these enormous tanks redundant. Next year, our winemakers will be able to relax inside the lab while looking at the live data of what's happening inside the tank, rather than climbing these massive giants.

Our Marlborough visit: Indevin, one of the leading wine technology winemakers in New Zealand.

"It has been said that there is no wine anywhere in the world that tastes like the wine of Marlborough – the balance of extraordinary purity and intensity of flavours set around impressive aroma, distinctive fruit characteristics and appealing balanced acidity is superb. These are stylish, exciting wines that surprise and delight." - From Wine Marlborough

Learning, learning, learning!

We're becoming more familiar with best practices in winemaking. In particular, it's exciting to learn how diverse wine practices are, in such an intensely-compact high-performing region!

What's next?

For the 2020 Southern Hemisphere harvest, we are looking to work closely with three to four winemakers. We have the capacity to fit out 1,000 tanks to automate the wine sampling.

Want to be one of them? Email info@winely.co.nz to chat!


It’s harvest time, it's harvest time!

"You know what time it is when it's harvest time!" (Sung to the tune of Flight of the Conchords: Business Time)

As we come into harvest time for the majority of our southern hemisphere customers, we figured we are well overdue for a progress update.

What is Winely? For those who don’t know, let’s break this down. Winely was founded in 2017, with a mission of making wine scientifically better.

We see tracking data as critical to ensure an amazing wine. But we don’t want winemakers to be burdened by this task. We don’t want tracking data to take away from the element of instinct involved in winemaking. We’ve set about developing a product that automates data collection and analysis so winemakers have more time to spend perfecting the wine.

We have had the pleasure of working with some absolutely fantastic winemakers in 2018 and we’re so excited to see the first iteration of our product up and running in VinPro’s tanks in just 2 short weeks!

Product details

After extensive conversations with winemakers from NZ and Aus we developed a hardware product to automate measurements of pH and Brix/Baume and temperature in the wine tanks. This is coupled with a software solution, allowing winemakers to check wine attributes in real time, in the office and out of it.

After VinPro, we are looking to fit out more customers! If you’re interested in having your tanks fitted out or for trialing a few tanks, then please reach out. Our calendar is filling up fast.... so the sooner, the better! Email jacob.manning@winely.co.nz to express interest.

Winely 2019

This year we’re excited to keep working with our winemakers on the data they need to make winemaking easier. This includes;

  1. Iterating our hardware to enable more data attributes to be collected.
  2. Iterating our hardware to allow for data tracking from the tanks to barrels.
  3. Building out an elegant dashboard to enable winemakers to make the best possible decisions with their data.
  4. A reconnaissance mission to the States to check out their wine technology and see where we fit into this amazing world of wine technology.

Happy Harvest, winemakers of NZ and Aus! We look forward to meeting more of you this year!

Abbe and Jake, co-founders of Winely


Startup to rid the world of bad wine.

Winely was founded in 2017 while the co-founders Jacob Manning and Abbe Hyde spent time working with SproutX agtech accelerator teams in Melbourne, Australia.

The co-founders had worked together before on various projects; but this time, the project was in Jacob Manning's domain. Having exited in an agtech startup in 2013 for a bit of cash, which paid for him to do two more degrees in science, strengthening his knowledge in the agtech space. “I boot strapped that startup from a local New Plymouth startup to Australasia wide. The soil science really interested me.” In 2011, after leaving KPMG as an accountant to work full-time on Wholesale Soil Solutions Ltd., he realised he needed more knowledge and proceeded to study Biotechnology at Otago University.

Science solutions to technical problems always interested Jacob and this lead him to founding Winely with Abbe Hyde.

Why am I doing this?

"I’m doing it because the science of winemaking is super interesting and complex! The metabolic pathways that are influenced by yeast and bacteria resulting in a funky drink! Hell yeah the biochemistry is awesome! That's what got me interested in this startup." - Jacob Manning

Abbe Hyde's background was slightly different. Having completed a Master's in Disruptive Innovation, she went on to found a high- tech startup in the Events Industry. She led the team to raise over $150,000 and worked with over 100 different events and event planners to help eliminate issues with low attendance in events.

Why am I doing this?

"I'm passionate about helping real people with big pain points. Talking to over 100 winemakers about the way they manage data to create beautiful wine gets me excited about the future of the industry. Especially from a disruptive innovation standpoint (my Masters research) - working with people that are keen to try new technologies and incorporate different practices into a very traditional industry seeming is a great space to be. Plus ... I love wine." - Abbe Hyde