Monthly Archives :

March 2018

10 Key Metrics to Measure in your Vineyard

10 Key Metrics to Measure in your Vineyard 663 662 Sectormentor

After a few years working with vineyards we have drawn out some of the most valuable data you can collect in your vineyard. Tracking these 10 metrics will help you better understand how to manage your vines and optimise your grape quality and yield.

Producing great wine is both a science and an art, we help take care of the science so you can focus on the art!

Some of these metrics are measured at the level of individual vines, and others are measured on a block by block basis. Most vineyards don’t monitor every vine, but take a representative sample from each block of vines. Not sure which vines to sample? We’ve written some advice on sampling here.

The vineyards we work with use  Sectormentor to record all of the metrics featured, and visualise their progress with the trends and tools on the Sectormentor web app to build up a picture of how to best manage their vineyard.


(Bride Valley Vineyard on a frosty morning)

1. Date of bud burst / flowering / picking

Everything in farming is weather dependent. However, by recording the date of bud burst, flowering and harvest, you are better equipped to start predicting your harvest date, which is helpful when planning tank space among other things! If the flowering date is early then you are likely to have an early harvest, and you can get everything in place. The Sectormentor Phenology Tool allows you to visualise these patterns, and you can now import your weather data to Sectormentor to see how these key dates relate to your GDD.


2. Date of frosts and severity

Frost can seriously affect bud burst, flowering and harvest patterns, so it’s good to record the date and severity of any frosts. At the very least it provides context when looking back on data! Read more here.


Predicting Yield

(Grapes ready for harvest at Davenport Vineyards)

3. Counting flowers per vine

Recording the flowers per vine in late Spring/early Summer allows you to get going with an early yield prediction. It’s only an approximation, as a heavy hail storm during flowering, or persistent rain can still really affect the yield. However it’s good to do these estimates so you can start planning a few months before harvest. The Sectormentor Yield Predictor tool makes creating and saving predictions throughout the year easy – enter your vineyard’s info and the rest is generated automatically!

The Sectormentor app makes it easy to count flowers per vine – when doing a flower count, you can scan the RFID tag at the sample site you’re in and then enter the number of flowers you count on each vine for the next 10-20 vines (depending on your sampling system). ‘Sync’ when back in the office and you will see the average flower count per block straight away in your web app. Read more here


4. Counting bunches per vine

About a month before harvest many vintners count the average number of bunches per vine, which gives a fairly accurate yield prediction alongside average bunch weight. With Sectormentor you can create an updated yield prediction at this stage on the Yield Predictor Tool. Many people also measure their bunch weight over the years to get a good approximate bunch weight for each variety (see below).  Read more here.


5. Bunch weight (kg/vine)

Bunch weight at harvest is a key part of any yield prediction program. One important goal of recording bunch weight at harvest is not to predict the yield that year, but to provide an average bunch weight to help with yield prediction in subsequent years. Careful collection and maintenance of bunch weight records from year to year is pivotal to optimising your yield estimation. Proper record keeping will also give the you a good sense of the variation related to climatic conditions. Read more here


Managing Harvest

6. Measuring grape sugar

Almost all winemakers use a refractometer to help them determine when to harvest. You can either use a refractometer that gives you an Oeschle reading or a Brix reading. Both scales indicate the sugar levels in the grape.

The Sectormentor Ripeness Indicator Tool makes it really easy to visualise the ripening of all your grapes. After you’ve entered your readings you can track the pH, sugar and acidity of your grapes, and notice the pattern of your vineyard. Graphs showing grape sugar over time are not linear – so we know it’s useful to be able to track this process visually, and really helps when deciding when to harvest! Read more about the Sugar:Acid ratio here.


7. Measuring titratable acid (TA)

Acid has an arguable optimum level of 6-9 g/L for reds/whites and 11-13 g/L for sparkling. It’s time to harvest when the acid comes closest to these optimums at the same time that sugar comes closest to optimum level of around 22 Brix. In many cases optimums are not be reached, so there are other rules of thumb for judging readiness of harvest (use Brix:TA Ratio). As Will Davenport told us “Many UK vineyards pick sparkling wine grapes at higher levels than this in years when grapes struggle to ripen.” Read more here about titratable acid readings here. 

The Sectormentor Ripeness Indicator Tool makes it easy to visualise the acid levels of all your grapes. After you’ve entered your readings you can immediately observe the ripening patterns of your vineyard.


Optimising Yield

(Harvest time at Davenport Vineyards)

8. Pruning weight per vine / Cane no. at pruning

Mid-winter is an important time for pruning vines in the UK. If you record the weight of material pruned off each vine and the cane number at pruning time, then you can work out the weight of each cane and understand each vine’s vigour.

The Sectormentor Vine Health Indicator tool allows you to immediately visualise the vigour and health of your vines once you’ve entered your pruning weights and cane numbers. Assessing vigour allows you to determine how many buds per vine you want to prune to. If you have high vigour (or heavy canes), then you can prune for lots of buds to try to manage lower leaf growth. Some vineyards choose to record no. buds per vine as a clear record (and good check) of what actions were taken in the vineyard.

The pruning weight measurement is also used as a guide to whether the vineyard needs more nitrogen applied (compost/manure in organic systems) and is often a better indicator than soil analysis. Read more here.


9. Kgs picked

Everyone wants to know their yield. It’s important to know the total amount picked as your harvest weights can inform pruning techniques, and how you care for your vines going forward. If you can keep collection trays from different blocks separate when harvesting, and count them separately, then you can better understand how an individual block is doing and adopt management techniques accordingly.Read more here

The Sectormentor Harvest Tool allows you to monitor your harvest in real time, and measure up your yield predictions to the reality of that season. After harvest, you can use the tool to reflect on which blocks yielded higher, and decide on your management going forward.

10. Actual number of vines per acre: record dead/missing vines

At the end of each season it’s important to record the number of dead or missing vines in each block. This allows you to calculate the actual number of vines per acre in a block, rather than the number that were originally planted – just 5% missing vines can skew all other predictions. This number is key for yield predictions!

Will Davenport sums it up nicely,

“A vineyard manager / owner can never have too much data, both current year data and historical data, to assist in making decisions and predicting the next 6 months. The normal problem is that collecting and maintaining data can be very time consuming, and that is where Sectormentor helps – it makes it much faster, tidies everything up and allows me to look up things that the vineyard manager has measured.”

You can visualise the number of dead / missing vines in the Sectormentor Vine Health Indicator.

If you would like to find out more about using Sectormentor for your vineyard, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information, or subscribe directly here.

Special thanks to Will Davenport for his helpful advice on these metrics.

Knowing what works on your vineyard: Trends

Knowing what works on your vineyard: Trends 985 680 Sectormentor

We always aim to make Sectormentor as customisable as possible, to empower you to record what you’re interested in, and find the results you’re looking for in the Trends section.

We’ve created several tools to make visualising your vineyard trends and patterns easier:

– The Ripeness Indicator Tool for monitoring your grapes in the run up to harvest.
– The Yield Predictor Tool which automatically converts your flower and bunch counts into yield predictions.
– The Vine Health Indicator for monitoring your pruning weights, crop load, and vigour.
–  The Harvest Tracker for keeping track of your harvest as it adds up and comparing to yield predictions.
– The Phenology Tool to view and compare key phenological dates between seasons (you can now import your own weather data to Sectormentor to see how these key dates relate to your GDD).

Sometimes however, there may be extra details you want to track that are more specific: does one rootstock have higher bunch counts than others? Does this clone have more flowers than average? When you want to take a more detailed look at your vines, the ‘Trends’ section on Sectormentor can help… The examples in this blog show how many different variables can be plotted against each other over different timeframes. We want to ensure you can get the insights you want for your farm!

Average bunches per vine per variety


This graph shows the average bunches per vine for several different variety. You can see immediately see which varieties are performing better in this metric!

Number & Severity of Frosts for each Variety

This graph shows the frequency (height of the bar) and intensity (colour) of frost across each of the different varieties in the last year at Davenport Vineyards. The frost hit hardest the Bacchus New, Chardonnay 9, Ortega New, Pinot Noir Redmoors and Siegerriebe New.  The team discussed that it would be interesting to overlay this graph with yields and see just how much the frost affected yields – this knowledge will be invaluable if heavy frosts hit again in future years.

Shoots per vine for each Variety

This shows the average number of shoots per vine per variety for one year at Davenport Vineyards.

Case Study: Davenport Vineyards use Sectormentor to enable better real-time management decisions

Case Study: Davenport Vineyards use Sectormentor to enable better real-time management decisions 1379 774 Sectormentor
 Will Davenport and his team have been collecting data for years but it was confined to scruffy notebooks and only typed up a few months later. They found they were collecting lots of data but not always using it because it wasn’t easily visualised, or they kept putting off typing it all up and so didn’t all have access to the data until very close to harvest, or even the next season!
Now he and his team use Sectormentor to record this data on the go, meaning they can spend more time making informed decisions and observing the plants, rather than messing around with scruffy notebooks and endless spreadsheets.
For example, they record the pruning weights from sample vines to determine how vigorous growth is. Almost the same day back in the office they use the Sectormentor website to look at weights, combined with cane numbers to decide if they need further pruning, or if they should add more compost in specific areas. Good data, combined with their years of knowledge, helps ensure they do all they can to help the vines produce high quality organic grapes.

Will Davenport tells us about his experience:

“Sectormentor helps us run our business effectively. It’s a management tool for out in the field, the more data I have about what’s going on in the vineyard the better I can do my job. We use it to record things like flowers per vine which gives us an early prediction of yields. It’s simple and much more effective, you just record the things you need as you go and they are immediately visualised for you.”

Last year he also used Sectormentor to record number of flowers per vine in early June, and that same day he had what turned out to be pretty accurate prediction of his yield 5 months before harvest, helping him plan and have his harvest run smoothly.

Sectormentor is very flexible so you can set it up to record whatever is important to you on your farm. Sectormentor is also coming in handy as part of on-farm research and trials across groups of farms, from soil-sampling to agroforestry it can help everyone collect information and learnings that can easily be combined to help create a consistent and reliable data set, perfect to find patterns between multiple farms.

Interested in how this could work for you, contact us here