Napa Valley blends the art of winemaking with Veeam data protection

Umbrellar Connect

Umbrellar Connect

Palmaz Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery in Napa Valley, California. The Palmaz family believes technology complements the traditions of viticulture and winemaking — a conviction upheld with every bottle of world-class wine. The family combines the ancient art of winemaking with data-driven decision-making. Their challenge was protecting data.

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The Business Challenge

The centerpiece of Palmaz Vineyards is an 18-storey, 100,000-square-foot subterranean winery that took seven years to build. This is where the Palmaz family combines the latest technology with time-honored craftsmanship to make wine.

The winery has 24 fermentation tanks that require constant monitoring, so Christian Palmaz, CEO, built a home-grown monitoring system. The Fermentation Intelligence Logic Control System (FILCS, pronounced Felix) monitors conditions inside the tanks and alerts winemakers if adjustments need to be made. It provides a broad range of data, giving instant insight into the fermentation process.

“Technology makes winemaking smarter,” Palmaz said. “FILCS is a technological leap that goes well beyond traditional fermentation. Typically, winemakers must take multiple manual measurements in order to understand the rate of fermentation, a process that distracts from the palate driven and more critical stylistic considerations. FILCS is able to focus on the mundane and complex allowing our winemakers more time to concentrate on the artistic elements of each wine which is what really makes the difference between good and great.”

Shortly after deploying FILCS, Palmaz quickly recognised the need to protect fermentation data. FILC was monitoring six of the winery’s 24 fermenters, and it was pouring out 1 GB every hour.

“I’m no IT expert, but I know enough to understand the benefits of disaster recovery,” Palmaz said. “I knew FILCS would generate more than a petabyte of data pretty quickly, and I wanted to maintain and analyse all of it. I didn’t feel like we could protect that amount of data on-premises, so we put it all in a public cloud, leaving no data behind.”

Two challenges arose when Palmaz tried to retrieve data from the cloud: lingering latency and sky-rocketing cost.

“FILCS machine learning compute engine is very time-sensitive, so you need access to data immediately,” he said. “By the time data was available, fermentation had changed so much that the data wasn’t relevant. The cost to retrieve data was staggering too. One month’s bill was $40,000.”

The Veeam Solution

Veeam® Backup Essentials™ enabled Palmaz Vineyards to bring winemaking data back on-premises. Veeam backs up 36 VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs) in the winery for fast, local recovery and replicates them to a second location for disaster recovery (DR). Veeam also transfers backup copies to Amazon Glacier for long-term storage.

“Veeam is the glue that holds everything together,” Palmaz said. “Over time Veeam has backed up over 1.2 PB of critical data, making it available so we  can make smart, informed decisions during winemaking.”

In addition to backing up FILCS, Veeam backs up a system called Vineyard Infrared Optical Recognition (VIGOR). It analyses data from infrared images taken by cameras attached to the underside of planes that fly over the vineyards twice weekly. The data tracks chlorophyll in each grape vine, enabling the Palmaz family to assess the evenness of growth.

“We adjust irrigation levels regularly to make sure all the grapes ripen at the same time, making the picking process more productive,” Palmaz said. “Veeam supports our mission to love the land, know the grape and make a wine that honors both.”

Palmaz said what amazes him most about Veeam is simplicity.

“I have no formal training as a data engineer, but data protection couldn’t be easier or more obvious with Veeam. SureBackup® and SureReplica make sure our backups and replicas are recoverable and Instant VM Recovery® recovers from them instantly. I feel like I have a permanent ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ with Veeam because if I mess up code, I know I can recover fast.”

Fast should be Veeam’s middle name, according to Palmaz.

“Speed is the reason we save an infinite amount of time and money on IT,” he said. “I can’t begin to count the hours and dollars we save because of Veeam, but I can tell you our data is fully protected and always available. Veeam lets us focus on making great wine.”

The Results

Protects vine growth and grape fermentation data for winemaking
“Our winery combines traditional winemaking with modern technology to produce award-winning wine,” Palmaz said. “Our data is invaluable and will serve as a source of reference for generations to come. Knowing Veeam backs it up gives us tremendous peace of mind.”

Delivers enterprise DR, enabling the winery to act as a data center
“Veeam is synonymous with DR for us,” Palmaz said. “Because I know I can recover quickly, I take risks with our data so we can be even better winemakers.”

Saves significant time and money in backup and recovery costs
“We could never reproduce the 1.2 petabytes of winemaking data we’ve accumulated over time,” Palmaz said. “That data is priceless, and Veeam protects it.”

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Umbrellar Connect

Umbrellar Connect

Umbrellar Connect is the leading multi-media hub for New Zealand's tech innovations. We keep you informed on the need-to-know impact stories, the trends shaping our world, and the tech enabling us to go further.

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