California Bountiful Interviews Monarch Customer, Beckstoffer Vineyards

As the nation’s largest food-producing state, California is the land of plenty. Each week, California Bountiful TV connects viewers to all that makes California abundant and desirable; its food, the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise it, and its lifestyle renowned for its fresh and relaxed demeanor. For the segment “Grape Expectations,” May 4, 2024, California Bountiful host, Aubrey Aquino, interviews Conner Berken, a viticulturalist and Assistant Vineyard Manager at Beckstoffer Vineyards, on the iconic vineyard’s use of its MK-V fleet and shares footage of the many customer farms in which the MK-V is operating.  

Electric Tractor at Beckstoffer Vineyards

Improving Production & Preserving Traditions 

For 30 years Beckstoffer Vineyards has been cultivating wine grapes on some of California’s oldest vineyards. Today, they are using a fleet of 10 MK-V tractors, the world’s first 100% electric, driver-optional, and smart tractor, to keep growing. The decision to use the MK-V electric tractor was a practical one. Berken explains that Beckstoffer practices a no-till operation, which requires more tractor passes to manage weeds and the vineyard didn’t want to increase its diesel usage and carbon footprint. Monarch’s MK-V seemed like a good fit.  

The decision proved valuable. Since its purchase in 2023, Beckstoffer has been using the electric tractor for row management, pulling out vines, and harvesting. In 2023, after six months of operation, Berken reports that Beckstoffer saved about $12,000 in diesel expenses alone. Other savings have materialized as well. 

MK-V Tractor Charging

So far it (the MK-V) has been very low maintenance. We use the tractor for the whole eight-hour shift. End of the day we plug it in and the next morning it’s fully charged and ready to go. It’s less maintenance than a diesel.

Conner Berken, Assistant Vineyard Manager, Beckstoffer Vineyards 

More Savings 

The segment also highlights the MK-V’s other exciting features including autonomy and exportable power. Berken shares that autonomy, which includes Row Follow, is saving the vineyard on labor costs, allowing his team to be more efficient with their time.  

No one is losing their jobs; it’s basically letting us be more efficient with our time. Freeing up some of that time to do the extra work we need to do is awesome.

Conner Berken, Assistant Vineyard Manager, Beckstoffer Vineyards 

Conner Berken, Assistant Vineyard Manager, Beckstoffer Vineyards 

Meanwhile, the real-time visibility provided by Wingspan Ag Intelligence (WingspanAI) saves Berken time. Instead of listening for a diesel tractor or, as he puts it, “driving around aimlessly looking for someone,” he knows where he’s going and can head straight there. As for exportable power, Berken reports that the MK-V has replaced any use of previous diesel-run generators.  

Driving Ag Technology 

Beckstoffer Vineyards was one of a handful of Monarch’s early adopters, helping spearhead the opportunity an advanced electric tractor can provide an agribusiness in specialty crops.  

Aubrey Aquino, Host of California Bountiful 

Tractors play a huge role in farm operations and in Napa Valley innovators like Beckstoffer Vineyards are looking to the future, embracing technology to help drive the way they farm.

Aubrey Aquino, Host of California Bountiful 

Being shared with thousands of viewers, this story of innovation can become one of farming success for specialty farmers across the nation. California Bountiful is sponsored by the California Farm Bureau.  

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