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Antinori bets on vineyard robots

Marchesi Antinori has become the latest high-profile wine producer to invest in the rapidly-developing field of vineyard robotics.

An example of a vineyard robot.

The Tuscan-based wine company, which oversees brands including Pèppoli and Tignanello in Chianti Classico, has been announced as a new shareholder in VitiBot.

Part of SDF Group, an agricultural machinery manufacturer based in Treviglio, Lombardy, VitiBot produces robots that can undertake a range of tasks in the vineyard, including weeding and mowing.

Piero Antinori, honorary president of Marchesi Antinori, said: “Ancient family roots play an important part in our philosophy but they have never hindered our innovative spirit. We are glad to be part of this new challenge together with Vitibot.”

“We believe that man must always play a fundamental role in the viticulture and in the wine business, but we also think that technology could assist us to improve the quality of our wines and our environment. This innovative approach will also contribute to the creation of highly skilled professional figures for the management of these robots,” suggested Antinori.

Cédric Bache, CEO and founder of VitiBot, argued that the “collaboration strengthens our position as a leader in the sector and
opens up exciting new prospects immediately”.

Other investors in VitiBot include the Champagne houses Roederer, Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët (part of Pernod Ricard), Laurent-Perrier, Piper-Heidsieck, and Charles Heidsieck.

Given that Tuscany in particular has been blighted by a shortage of vineyard workers in recent years, it could well be the case that other producers from the region soon invest in robotics as a means of maintaining their vines without the need for more human labour.

Antinori isn’t the only big name to invest in viticultural robots recently – Champagne giant Moët & Chandon has teamed up with Yanmar Vineyard Solutions to explore how to use robotic tractors to tend its vines.

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