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Monday 28 March 2022

Is that a cannon in your vineyard?


Calling all vignerons in cool-climate wine regions.

How about a mobile hot-air cannon to guard against unseasonable frosts?

French wine industry outlet Vitisphere reports that the latest in frost protection for vineyards is a mobile hot-air cannon with a power of 1.8 million watts, designed by wine industry entrepreneur Michael Paetzold. 

The idea came to me during the frosts of April 2021," said the company’s namesake president. “While helping friends light candles or set up fans [in vineyards], I realised that most of the resources available today are not entirely effective.

Based on this observation, the Bordeaux-based businessman launched a research and development project. 

The basic idea was that we needed power to combat frost, the intensity and nature of which we have never known beforehand" he said.

"And we wanted something mobile. For a fixed device to be totally effective, the vineyard would need to be a single, circular block, and there is no such thing. So we put as much as we could fit onto a trailer.

The result is the new cannon, which can be hitched to a tractor and operated while driving. 

It's a circulating air system, with the added benefit of generating heat," the inventor said. "In terms of design, the fan and the heat source are very closely linked right from the start. It's a complex machine to design, and some people said it wasn't possible. We had to be very precise about the aeraulics” (the science of gas flow)."

The cannon runs on oil or biofuel, and uses “about 200 litres per hour at full power”.  It can be used “practically without any time limitation”.

The price tag of €130,000 means it is not an option for small producers.

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