Blending Science With Wine: A Tech Executive Who Stomps His Own Grapes Refines the Discipline of Viniculture

on 14/10/10 at 10:29 am


DAVIS—At a 12,000-square-foot research winery here at University of California, Davis, Silicon Valley wizardry is meeting centuries-old tradition—all in order to figure out how to make better wine.

The mission is being carried out courtesy of T. J. Rodgers, chief executive of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. in San Jose who also operates his own vineyards and winemaking operation. He donated 152 stainless-steel fermentation tanks that are equipped with high-tech equipment designed by Cypress’s engineers. Among other things, the 55-gallon tanks monitor sugar levels, control temperature and transmit data wirelessly to the winery’s computers.

Not only does this automate tasks that winemakers typically spend hours doing each day, but for the first time, it provides a level of control over the grapes’ fermentation process that will allow UC Davis to create identical barrels of wine. By eliminating variables such as the alcohol level at different points during the fermentation process, UC Davis researchers hope to pinpoint the impact of different winemaking techniques.

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