Ferrari Fratelli Lunelli | Capabilities and Innovation

Winemaking excellence in a changing territory

Italy produces more wine than any other country on earth, ranking it as a top-three exporter by volume and value. At least for one winemaker in the region, embracing technology is as important as respect for history.

Ferrari Trento, a sparkling wine producer in Trentino in the heart of the Italian Alps, is investing in 21st century innovation to produce the ancient beverage. Known for its Traditional Method sparkling wine – adding sugar and yeast to still wine to trigger second fermentation inside the bottle – Ferrari prioritizes innovation while respecting the company’s 119-year-old history. Matteo Lunelli, the company’s President and CEO, believes Ferrari’s strategic collaborations and continuous focus on new technologies will help preserve the legacy for future generations.

Winemaking is a complex process that requires the right atmospheric, soil, and groundwater conditions. Lunelli describes a multilayered approach focusing on all these factors to arrive from vine to glass. For instance, the company takes humidity readings from sensors to determine humidity levels at its vineyards. Drones sweep over the territory to monitor the vigor, or growth rate, of the vines, as well as the colors of the grapes as they ripen. On the ground, staff agronomists use mobile tablets to log data as they get an up-close look at the plants.

“Since we live in a beautiful territory, it is our duty to protect it, and to preserve it for future generations.”

“Using technology is good, but the human touch is always essential,” Lunelli says of the family-owned firm. “We have people who are passionate about viticulture. Not only do they go with tractors or other instruments to cultivate the vineyards, but they are also technologically skilled.”

Like businesses in regions across the world, Ferrari has taken steps to respond to climate change – mitigating its effects and adapting growing techniques in response to this disruption. Climate scientists predict the region might see a marked increase in summer temperatures through 2070, as well as a significant decrease in precipitation in the summer months. Lunelli says the company is actively scouting nearby locations at slightly higher elevations to mimic the temperature conditions of some of its current vineyards and maintain product consistency in case temperatures do in fact rise. Ferrari has collaborated with San Michele all’Adige, a local agrarian academy specializing in viticulture, to track temperature changes and refine its cultivation methods as needed.

“We are willing to have a higher average altitude for our vineyards in Trentino,” Lunelli says. “Long-term, this will enable us to maintain similar conditions compensating the effects of global warming. If not, the risk is that the style of our wines might change.”

Water use is another concern: It can take up to 2.65 liters of water to produce a standard 0.75 liter bottle of wine. Ferrari is testing a pilot project with a technology startup for an intelligent irrigation system at its vineyards using Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence technologies. According to Lunelli, mini weather stations placed directly on the vines transmit a combination of climate, satellite, and soil humidity data to the company so it can manage watering only when necessary. The company hopes to save 9 million cubic meters of water per year – the equivalent volume of a small lake, such as the nearby Lago di Tovel.

“Sustainability in wine is crucial,” Lunelli says. “Wine is an expression of a territory. Since we live in a beautiful territory, it is our duty to protect it, and to preserve it for future generations.”

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