NASA the Sommelier

As I have delved into the relationship between everyday life and how it is affected by the research done by NASA and its partners within our solar system, I am consistently surprised.

My wife will tell you that I do enjoy a glass or two of pinot noir and while I used to be a French wine snob, I now love Italian, Spanish and American.

But did you know that it costs a lot per acre to make wine? This is especially true in Virginia. According to a recent article in The Washington Post by Laura Vozzella, the cost of setting up an acre can be between $12,000 and $16,000 before you buy the land! As the article notes, there is little room for error in site selection in order to yield high profits.

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton mapped the Virginia countryside using Earth observation satellites and subsequently made the data available to the Virginia wine industry. That data can be married with soil types, slope of land, angle of the sun, frost dates and moisture content to help determine where the most profitable new plantings should occur! (The Washington Post article delves into more detail and is worth a full read or watch NASA's video here.)

This innovation not only benefits the vintners, but it can help up Virginia’s economy. Now this could make Virginia wines move into rarified heights and bring some real profits down to Earth!

Cheers to that!

James Causey is the Executive Director of SpaceCom and can be found at nearby northern Virginia wineries on a nice day educating fellow wine snobs on how NASA’s technologies will help make Virginia the next Napa Valley.