How Vineyards Can Use Air Quality Monitors to Protect their Grapes

How much wine has been lost due to wildfires?

Well, in 2020 alone, wildfires devastated Californian wineries as flames tore through the region. Over $601 million in crops were lost as a result, and while there was some funding made available—many wineries struggled with the losses.

We all know winemakers take great care of their vineyards to produce the perfect bottle of wine. Sadly, wildfires have a serious impact on not just the crops that are lost but also by simply affecting the air quality. Thankfully, recent studies have shown a lot of new ways in which wineries can benefit from tools like air quality monitoring technology.

In today’s blog, we’re looking at the science of wine and air quality, and what wineries can do to protect their vineyards from harmful air pollution.

How Air Quality Affects Grape Quality

The first ingredient in any wine is the grape you use. Thanks to wine scientists, we know that grapes are far more sensitive to the environment than we realized. The temperature, humidity, altitude, and even air quality can all affect the flavor of your grapes. And that, by extension, also impacts the taste of your wine.

On vineyards, there are a few different causes for poor air quality like:

  • Wildfires: In certain areas, wildfire smoke is incredibly common; this can destroy and harm the grapevines. Worse yet, these “smoke-tainted” wines aren’t sellable since wine lovers dislike the flavor.
  • Vehicle emissions: Using farm equipment, for example, can majorly increase particulate matter. In fact, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) engines release 30% of their fuel unburned into the air, further increasing air pollution on the vineyards.
  • Ozone depletion: In areas where the ozone is weaker, studies have also found that it impacts the weight and taste of the grapes harvested. This means winemakers harvest smaller, more aggressive grapes, resulting in less desirable wines.

How Vineyards Are Already Using Air Quality Monitors

The good news is that wineries are already well aware of how air quality affects grapes. And since air quality monitors are now more affordable than they were historically, even small family-owned wineries can invest in them to protect their crops.

In regions that are prone to forest fires, like California, some wineries already use air quality monitors for smoke detection. By using air quality monitors, winemakers can see their levels of particulate matter and other harmful air pollutants caused by wildfires in real time, which allows them to take the steps needed to protect their vines.

Beyond that, air quality monitors like PurpleAir’s can also measure temperature and humidity. This is important if you want to protect your vines from variables like frost or extreme heat. By monitoring the fluctuations in the environment, winemakers can make quicker decisions to salvage their grapes.

Some wineries also use things like barrier spray to prevent wildfire smoke from seeping into the grapes, which ruins the flavor of the wine. While research is still needed to see how much smoke impacts the grapes, there is hope that new techniques will be discovered to help protect vineyards from the harm of air pollution.

Connect With PurpleAir

At PurpleAir, there are tons of organizations around the world using our data—from Google to the EPA. We’re thrilled to read about research like this being used to help businesses, and we look forward to seeing plenty more in the future.

Are you a technology company or institution looking to work with PurpleAir?

We’d love to connect and see how we can help you. Whether you’re interested in our air quality monitors or using our air quality data for your projects, feel free to reach out.