Constellation Brands

Constellation Brands' First Year With the MK-V

Date Dec 13, 2023

Constellation Brands received the first MK-V tractors in December 2022. Here’s what their first year has been like with a fleet of smart, electric, autonomous MK-V tractors. 

It’s been quite a year for Constellation Brands, kicking off with the acquisition of a fleet of six MK-V tractors to support its farming and business goals. Constellation, a leading beer, wine, and spirits company, has long been committed to sustainable and innovative solutions to further its environment, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals to adapt to farming challenges and mold the future in agriculture it envisions for itself.  

Farming with the MK-V tractor

Farming used to be really enjoyable and fun, and it’s become difficult. Consumers are changing. We’ve never had fires like this. We’ve never had droughts like this. With the challenges we’re faced with in farming now, we all have to adapt what we do because it’s not business as usual anymore.

Harinder Dhaliwal, General Manager, Vineyard Development, Constellation Brands 

Over the course of the year an extraordinary sequence of weather events set the stage where the tractors, nature, and skilled farmwork intersected to create an excellent vintage for the record books. Working with its MK-Vs through a complete growing season gave Constellation a chance to test drive how its sustainability model could expand.  

If you’ve ever wondered what a year with an MK-V would be like, this is your story.  


Day of Firsts 

On Dec 1, 2022, Monarch’s MK-V tractor officially entered the market when the digital keys for the first six tractors off the production line were handed over to our first customer, Constellation Brands. The fleet of smart, electric, autonomous tractors was destined for Constellation’s legendary To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville, CA., a 450-acre organic vineyard, renowned for producing iconic wines. 

First Constellation Brands tractors

It was raining heavily that day, a welcomed sign of relief for farmers who had been navigating years of parched winters and record-breaking wildfires. Dhaliwal felt it was symbolic. 

“We just got an announcement from the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) that we had been certified organic and we were going to this Monarch presentation,” Dhaliwal says. “We were the first to receive the digital keys.”  

Purchasing the MK-V also represented the first steps Constellation took in its goal of being a global leader in farming sustainably. By being early adopters, Constellation is proactively setting an industry example in sustainability and organic farming. It’s also giving itself the ability to stay ahead of any potential issues that are inherent with a shift in practices, thus solidifying a way of farming that leads to higher quality crops and efficient operations.  

Constellation Brands is deeply committed to ESG goals and a fleet of MK-V tractors is a big part of that.

Blake Wood, Director of Vineyard Operations, Constellation Brands 

8000kg emissions saved with the MK-V


Getting Started 

ESG goals are an important guiding principle, but a tractor’s value is measured in its ability to do real work, help farmers be productive, and make a farm profitable. Monarch’s MK-V has additional layers of complexity like autonomy, data collection and analysis, and smart connectivity. As such, the MK-V looks like a tractor and functions exactly like a tractor, yet it’s completely different from a conventional diesel tractor. What would To Kalon Vineyard’s tractor operators think of the smart, electric, autonomous tractor?  

The team reports that regarding operators getting on the MK-Vs, using them, and adjusting to them, it was rather straightforward. If anything was truly different, it was the level of enthusiasm and interest in working with the new technology. 

“The operators were very excited about it,” Dhaliwal recalls. “It’s like getting your first smart phone. Some jumped on it right away. Our team felt like it was a privilege to be using this new technology.”  

Additionally, a smart, electric, autonomous tractor does require some minor infrastructure changes. Constellation installed a charging station, and Monarch put up base stations, small footprint devices that facilitate communication between the tractor and smartphones, tablets, and computers.  

Early Concerns

While there are many benefits to being a frontrunner in adopting new technology, the nature of being a trailblazer comes with an undercurrent of unfamiliarity. The Constellation team had three initial concerns regarding the MK-V; battery runtime, implement integration, and customer support.  

As the year progressed, confidence replaced anxiety. For Constellation, the MK-V had proven its ability to run a 10-hour shift, time and time again. There was no need to purchase new implements because the MK-V was compatible with the vineyard’s current ecosystem of equipment. But the biggest surprise was that of customer support and maintenance. It’s inevitable for a tractor to have issues. It’s how those issues are resolved that was the question. Unlike tractors that lack connectivity, the MK-V’s Wingspan Ag Intelligence (WingspanAI) technology empowers operators to send tickets directly to Monarch from the tractor.  

Wood admits that the idea that the Monarch team knew about issues before he did took a little getting used to, but it was a very pleasant surprise. There were times the MK-V would be parked in the barn for the night and when the team returned in the morning there would be an update and issues were resolved without a mechanic ever having touched the tractor.  

The concern over what would happen if something breaks down was solved by Monarch because they have a great support system. They would already know what the problem is. We actually gave them some harvest vests and made them feel like they’re part of the team. They really are, you know.

Harinder Dhaliwal, General Manager, Vineyard Development, Constellation Brands 

1700 ev tractor operations

Like Dhaliwal, others on the Constellation team are also quite positive regarding Monarch’s support calling out how Monarch has been notably helpful with training, getting operators comfortable with using the MK-V tractors, and outreach regarding any technical difficulties or assistance with new tasks.   


Monarch on the Job 

From under the vine cultivation to mowing to harvest to seeding, while utilizing a variety of driver-assist, manual, and fully autonomous functions, the MK-V is earning its keep at To Kalon.  

Growing Season Operations 

In 2023, California’s spring brought unseasonably cold weather and rains. As soon as conditions were ready in April, the fleet was sent into the fields for under vine cultivation, as part of the newly organic-certified vineyard’s practices. Dhaliwal estimates that conventional farming methods required spraying herbicides two or three times per season, but under vine cultivation requires five or six passes. Constellation ran under vine cultivation operations from roughly April through August.  

Dhaliwal explains, “When you go organic, I think people forget that means you have to do multiple things and take multiple passes and that requires burning fuel. With a Monarch, you’re eliminating that and all the other things that go along with a regular tractor like emissions and fuel costs.”  

The Row Follow feature used with under vine cultivation operations proved to be especially popular among Constellation’s tractor drivers. Row Follow is a partially autonomous, advanced driver assist feature that keeps the tractor centered in a row automatically so an operator can focus on what the implement is doing. At the end of the row, the operator manually guides the tractor into the next row, then reactivates Row Follow.  

Dhaliwal exclaims, “It’s really cool! You turn it into the next row then let it go.”  

As the year progressed, Constellation expanded the fleet’s uses.   

Monarch Tractor undervine weeding

We’ve used the Monarch tractors pretty much to do any operation we would  do with a conventional tractor — under vine cultivation, mowing, discing, chopping. We used it during harvest and we’re using it during our cover crop operations.

Harinder Dhaliwal, General Manager, Vineyard Development, Constellation Brands 


Representing the entire season’s worth of work, harvest operations must work perfectly from timing to worker efficiency to transporting the harvested grapes. For harvest 2023, Constellation discovered that the MK-V redefined the labor-intensive experience by establishing a safer, healthier work environment.  

To Kalon practices hand harvesting, with nighttime shifts and the MK-V was used to pull trailer bins. Constellation’s diesel tractor has headlights, but the MK-Vs have multiple work lights around the roof that provide 360-degree lighting coverage in addition to headlights. The built-in additional lighting made work more visible for crews and the tractors themselves were quite noticeable.  

Safety was another big benefit. Constellation employs 8-10 people per crew working around the tractor. The tractor driver must be aware of everyone for safety. In addition to increased visibility from lighting, operators could see what was happening all around the tractor on the smart screen utilizing the MK-V’s camera technology.  

Dhaliwal says the MK-V helped make communications easier, making for a more efficient, safer, and less stressful harvest work environment.  

It can be pretty dangerous in a sense that it’s night and there’s a lot of people. With a tractor that’s pretty quiet, noise is one less thing to worry about. If I’m out there and have to discuss something with one of my foremen or my supervisors, I don’t have to yell. We can actually have a conversation or call out something if there’s a safety concern or an adjustment is needed.

Harinder Dhaliwal, General Manager, Vineyard Development, Constellation Brands 

Constellation harvest at night

Finally, workers were not inhaling diesel exhaust for the duration of their shift. “The absence of combustion, carbon emissions, and the quietness of the working environment was a real benefit for the worker,” Wood observes. 

Autodrive Seeding

Now that harvest is over, Constellation is looking ahead to next year. And for the Monarch MK-V, that means Autodrive. Constellation has already been working with the MK-V’s autonomous seeding feature.  

In further preparations for forthcoming Autodrive capabilities, the team at To Kalon Vineyard has begun using the tractor to train and map the GPS technology and begin some hours of autonomy. Wood says the entire team is thrilled and looking forward to the expansion of Autodrive operations over the course of 2024.  

$16,000 energy savings with MK-V

It’s exciting. I mean, that’s part of what was billed as part of what’s been promised, and it’s exciting to see that happening right now.

Blake Wood, Director of Vineyard Operations, Constellation Brands 


The insights and efficiency provided by WingspanAI during operations was another technology that impressed the To Kalon Vineyard team. During harvest, the team used the app to monitor workers, check the status of the trailer bins, and locate the precise location of a particular tractor and its crew. At any given time, he knew exactly how full a bin was during operations by looking at the video feed. Wood, meanwhile, utilized WingspanAI on his desktop, iPad, and iPhone.  

I really wanted to test the software and see how it performed and I’m happy to report it performed very well. It’s great to have access to the real-time data and to know where the tractors are, where they’ve been, and what they’re up to.

Blake Wood, Director of Vineyard Operations, Constellation Brands 

WingspanAI Monarch Tractor

By the Numbers

In addition to operation insights and tractor activities, WingspanAI provides valuable metrics to help inform data-driven decision-making. Due to the extra wet and rainy conditions early in the year, springtime operations at Constellations began in April. Here’s the ROI analysis provided by WingspanAI based on the fleet’s use in eight months: 

  • Over 1,700 hours of usage for operations with the MK-V in less than one year.  

  • Over 9,000 kWh of energy used, resulting in *energy savings of more than $16,000. 

  • Nearly 8,000 kg of CO2 emissions savings. 

* Accounts for diesel fuel savings and additional accrued electricity costs. 

Dhaliwal was especially surprised by what he saw.  

“I mean, we’ve been tracking how much fuel we use for a long time, and now looking at it analytically, it is huge,” Dhaliwal says. “It’s fantastic! It makes you feel good that you’re cultivating, but not impacting the climate with emissions. You’re not impacting the soil with herbicides. We’re also saving money.” 

Growing the Future 

For 2023, Constellation’s MK-V fleet remained at To Kalon Vineyard, but plans are underway to send tractors to other vineyards in Napa and down to vineyards on California’s Central Coast. The positive energy over the fleet’s performance and what it means for the future is felt across the entire team, from operators to leadership.  

The team's enthusiasm stems from tangible success. After all, success in farming, even at Constellation Brands, requires proficiency and frugality. The price of fuel is up and down. Labor is tight. Profit margins are slim and every penny matters. Dhaliwal advises other farmers that at some point they need to make the jump into electrification. In addition to taking advantage of the economic and environmental gains provided by the MK-V tractor, Dhaliwal reveals another ancillary benefit. Constellation is leveraging Monarch’s AgTech to attract younger workers into farming.  

Between realized gains, increased sustainability, and more autonomous features on the horizon, Constellation’s future with the Monarch Tractor is bright.  

“I’m happy to be looking into future-forward initiatives and Monarch is definitely one of those,” Wood says. 

And that’s a future that Monarch Tractor is eager to support for farmers everywhere.  

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