Collection Winery (Napa, CA) is implementing an in-house geographic information
system. The system will give Richard Camera, director of vineyard operations, a
geographic basis for organizing, displaying, and evaluating all of the
information available about his vineyards, including soil type, irrigation
layout, rootstocks, yields, and more from outside consultants, surveyors, and
will be organized into spatial databases, and the winery will manage and update
the information in-house. The Hess Collection is using a number of modern
technologies, with a geographic information system (GIS) as the
to use the system to help him manage development of two large new vineyards and
several small ones. These projects will add 450 acres to the winerys 750
planted acres in California. "I have been looking for a program which
would allow me to organize the large amount of data involved in the
decision-making process," says Camera.
What is GIS?
university degree was in geography, and with it I developed a fondness for
maps. This has always had an influence on my view of the world and on my
management style." One look around his office yields an appreciation for
the importance of maps in managing Hess Collection vineyards, both existing and
developing. Cameras predilection for maps coupled with The Hess
Collections philosophy of being innovative and in front of the pack
combined to produce strong support for the GIS project.
Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI), a world leader in the field of GIS
software, offers this formal definition of a geographic information
collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data, and personnel
designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and
display geographically referenced information.
While accurate, comprehensive, and widely accepted, this
definition does not help the newcomer to GIS a great deal. Perhaps the
following definition from ESRI offers more: A GIS is a computer-based tool for
mapping and analyzing things that exist and events that happen on earth, using
common database operations such as query (asking questions of data) and
statistical analysis, with the unique visualization and geographic analysis
benefits offered by maps.
Another way to
explain GIS is by analogy: consider several patchwork quilts spread upon a bed.
Each quilt represents a different layer of information (e.g., yield, wine
quality, rainfall, soil, chemistry, rootstock, clonal selection, rows, block
boundaries, irrigation, etc.), and each patch represents a different area
within that layer. The bed represents the geographic extent of the entire
In addition to
the spatial data the shape of each patch and its location in the quilt
there exists descriptive or attribute data the stuffing inside
the quilt describing the attributes associated with each patch. The more
layers of patches overlaid one upon the other and the more detailed the
attributes within each layer, the more richly detailed the information
The GIS is not
simply a computer system for making thematic maps of various locations at
different scales with attractive colors (although it does this quite well);
rather, the major advantage of the GIS is that it allows complex and detailed
analysis of the spatial relationships between map features and their
humans, we can only effectively track three or four layers of information
overlay before record keeping becomes a nightmare. Here is where modern
computer hardware and GIS software become useful.