September 25, 2023

Episode #696 – Is Wine’s Future the Planet of Robots or Planet of the Apes?

This week on Grape Encounters Radio, host David Wilson explores the implications of futuristic technology in the world of wine. From wine robots to “wine ape NFTs,” he’s questioning just how much technology we should be bringing into the wine world. Is it really necessary, and more importantly, should we be cautious about allowing it to replace a winemaker’s passion and attention? With the introduction of wine robots in the vineyards, David suggests that we may very well be on track to replace certain aspects of human winemaking with machines, initially under the guise of crop resiliency.

The wine robots in question have been developed by Cornell University’s VitisGen team. The goal of this project is to bring technological innovations into vineyards by combining plant pathology, computer vision, AI and robotics. This new technology has great potential for encouraging widespread planting of new disease-resistant grape varieties that have been made possible by VitisGen – but does this mean that significant aspects of the hand-crafted art of winemaking could eventually go by the wayside?

Next, David dives into the growing popularity of wine NFTs; using the ape-made wines of the Bored Wine Company as an example of this hard-to-grasp concept. Here’s a brief explanation of an NFT: It’s a non-fungible token, or an asset on the blockchain that is unique and has potential value. A wine NFT is a unique bottle that is tracked from production to consumption. But David poses the question, “Are wine NFTs really worth what they’re being sold for?” Wine NFT prices can range anywhere from a few hundred to even hundreds of thousands of dollars and even much more. But it’s hard to say if the wine itself is actually worth that much, as it’s nearly impossible to tell without tasting it first! Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that the wine is age-worthy or will even be stored properly over time.

As for the ape-made wine of the Bored Wine Company, according to their story, it was 2041 when some apes of the future discovered the legendary Genesis Grape on an obscure message board. After months of exploration, they returned with exceptional wine and created the Bored Wine Company to share it in the NFT Everglades – but is this wine really worth its price tag just because it’s an NFT?

Throughout this episode, David examines both sides of wine and technology. He believes that wine should be crafted with passion and attention as much as possible, yet recognizes that new technologies can open up possibilities for winemakers which could result in even better wine. So, are wine robots and NFTs just a gimmick, or can they positively affect the industry? Listen and find out for yourself!

Grape Encounters is brought to you by Total Wine & More. This holiday at Total Wine & More, when you find a new favorite cabernet or chardonnay, or the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, you’ll know you found something special – all for the lowest price. Love what you find. Only at Total Wine & More. Drink responsibly. Be 21.

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