I love my recliner. It’s my Captain Kirk’s chair. With my TV remote and trusty Iphone I can control the Griffith Empire with speed and compassion, if Josephine lets me.
From my recliner I can sail the wine colored sea, backwards and forwards in time and space. This is where I contemplate the big questions; life, the universe and everything. It is here where I sit thinking, “how the hell am I going to get a 1,000 word blog about wine out of TRANSLATION”? The answer came from that great philosopher of our time Homer Simpson, “it’s going to take a lot of wine”.
I am using the formal technical meaning of translation; “the process of moving something from one place to another”. Or the conversion of something from one form or medium into another.
We have arrive at a crossroads in time. We have political upheaval around the world. Economic uncertainty. Environmental changes depending on what day you listen to the news we have climate change, global warming, or environmental Armageddon. Take your pick. I’ll agree the world is getting warmer but Armageddon, come on.
AI, artificial intelligence, no we are not talking about what passes as intelligence from our two political parties, news media, or college students, we are talking machine intelligence computers and robots. Right now there is a huge debate by some of the keenest minds going if AI is good, or is it the end of humanity. No Pressure! For me all of this is just another day at the office so I don’t worry about it, but what effect will all this crap have on wine. Now that’s the question.
If you read the Huffington Post the future of wine and humanity is doomed, due to climate change. I think this assessment is wrong. The world has been warmer and cooler over the history of wine and the product is still here exciting and enthralling us. There will be winners and losers for sure. Europe is going to have to learn to adapt and improvise and become more flexible in their regulations.
Site Selection is going to change. Sites are going to move to higher latitudes and altitudes. This is already happening. Vineyards are moving further north and south. Gowers are moving higher up the mountains.
We’ll be drinking different grape varieties. Possibly clones of the originals. Will we develop GMO wines. That isn’t new, the French have been doing it for centuries. Science will engineer drought, heat resistance vines. They’ll design out pests and diseases. Some varietals may go extinct to be replaced by something new and better.
We’ll see an increase of technology in vineyard management and the winemaking process. Machine intelligence will change how we manage the growing and harvesting of the grapes. Computers will help growers to manage the vine’s canopy to provide more shade, better water and pest management. Machines will do more and better vineyard maintenance. Machines will harvest and replant vineyards.
The winemaker will have faster and more intelligent tools to work their magic. From when to harvest, to fruit selection, fermentation methods and control. Am I advocating turning the sensual act of making wine over to a heartless machine? NO! We’ll still need talented gifted winemakers, but they’ll have better tools to work with.
Machine Intelligence will affect another point in the wine world, consumers. Today there is a smartphone app called Wine Ring that uses advanced algorithms to help you select wine based on your own taste preferences. They say it only takes about 6 to 12 preference points for this program to start picking wines for you. The more wines you rate, the better the device gets at calling the wines you will like. Imagine being at the store with 100’s or possibly 1,000’s of choices and picking a bottle you will know you will absolutely love. The downside of this is you could get stuck in a profound wine drinking rut. I’d never get this device no matter how good it is, because I love the adventure of wine, even if I get a clunker now and then.
I can only imagine what advances in packaging and distribution technology will bring to the wine industry. Drones delivering wines order over the internet, by a celler auto replenishment programs? Will Wine Ring scan Wine Spectator’s new releases, sort for wines under $20, match to your preferences, scan Wine Searcher’s list of vendors, automatically place orders with retails and have them at your home by friday night and pay for it using PayPal. That would be really cool. What advances might we see in home storage and serving devices?
From my position in my recliner, wine translates well into the future. I have no fear of climate change or of a robotic apocalypse. What scares me are terrorist, people and governments.
French vintners should be more worried about ISIS terrorism and Sharia Law than global warming and cheap imports from Spain, but, they’re not. The Islamification of Europe is a clear and present danger. Sharia law will undo centuries of French wine culture. As I write this another terrorist attack has occurred in Paris.
And it’s not just France that is at risk; Italy, Germany, Spain, and Greece all are going to face a cultural crisis within the next 10 years. Western civilization is being eclipsed by Islam. In Turkey a recent vote has reversed 100 years of secular government and put the country on a path to radical Islam, this will not translate will for wine.
I believe if you took all of the world leaders, dressed them in white hospital gowns and released them into any asylum anywhere in the world, they would have a tough time talking their way out. You tell me if Pak Pong Ju, Bashar al-Assad, Nicola’s Maduro or Maxine Waters seem like they have their senses about them? Frankly, I remember the words of the late Bob Grant, a radio personality in New York City, “We are sick and getting sicker”! I’m afraid of the average person on the street. I want a robotic bodyguard. I don’t shop in malls, I don’t go out to eat, I don’t go to concerts or to movies. Why? Because people out there are nuts! And they are getting nuttier, and they should all have keepers, and robotic driven cars.
I’m with Elon Musk, all us normal people, let’s move to Mars. And that’s saying people who want to move to Mars are normal! Someone will be able to figure out how to make wine there. I feel like we are living in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and I want to move to Galt’s Gulch as fast as possible. I fear people more than robots and climate change.
So, I think I will return to my recliner, with my wine, and leave the iphone and TV remote on the other side of the room. I fear I’ve unlocked a door, beyond which is another dimension. A dimension of sound, sight and mind. Like it or not we’re moving through that door into a land of shadow and substance, of things and ideas. Hang onto your wine glasses, we’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!