Grands Chais de France (GCF) group is the top private wine grower in France, exporting 80% of its production to more than 170 countries. The family-owned company owns wine estates covering more than 3,000 hectares. A Naïo Technologies partner for more than 2 years, it has recently been working with a second Ted robot at its Château de la Galinière estate in Provence, giving us the opportunity to find out how things are going and to have an update on the strategy of Grands Chais de France regarding the use of robotics in wine growing.
Some major challenges for the future of the wine industry
Matthieu Grassin, the Group’s estates and vineyards manager, is enthusiastic when asked about Ted. “We contacted Naïo Technologies two years ago. At the time, the company was already at the forefront regarding robots for the wine industry and we subsequently acquired our Ted robot. One of our employees uses it in the plots.” Since this, a second robot is being used in Provence, this time as a service provided along with a technician from Naïo Technologies.
There are many reasons for this choice, but they are all guided by the desire of the company’s MD to develop robotics as a solution for the future. According to Matthieu Grassin, “It’s getting more and more difficult to find agricultural workers, particularly in wine growing”.
As well as this issue, he also raises the environmental challenges. “The fact that this robot can work the soil mechanically using electricity is very attractive.” The existing deadlock regarding the use of chemicals and the withdrawal of some weedkillers also explains Ted’s popularity.
In addition, Grands Chais de France company is ambitious from an environmental point of view. Proof of this is that, from next year onwards, it is giving itself the goal of obtaining HVE (High Environmental Value) certification for 100% of its vineyards.
A partnership, more than simple collaboration
For several days, the second Ted robot has been working in the AOP Côte de Provence vines on the Galinière estate. The contact with the Naïo Technologies operator is being managed by Pierre-Edouard Boyoud, the estate manager.
“The robot is working in 4- to 5-year-old vines. It’s working beneath the row using harrow blades and Kress fingerweeders”. Ted is a ready-made solution for weeding in this certified organic estate. “I’m very happy with the work done: Ted even goes looking for weeds where our traditional inter-vine tools don’t usually go!”
Over the coming years, Grands Chais de France would like to continue this partnership with Naïo Technologies. According to Matthieu Grassin, “Robots will be essential for managing the vineyards we have in hand”.
“One of the biggest challenges will be working with a robot which can also weed in our other vineyards, in the regions of Jura or Alsace, for example.” In Provence, Pierre-Edouard Boyoud is using Ted on clay-limestone soil.
One of the other important points to work on remains the robot’s autonomy. Matthieu Grassin is considering the possibility of one user being able to operate several robots, but the robot’s full autonomy will only be possible with a change in the regulations regarding self-driving vehicles. Equally, Grands Chais de France are convinced that this technology has a place within their structure from now on: “It’s for this reason that we took the plunge: we will be present and ready when we are able to do it.”