Good Fruit Grower

November 2015

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24 NOVEMBER 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER W ashington vineyards are moving closer to the day of total mechanization. New devices use laser eyes, position sensors or potentiometers, and other technology to take vineyard tasks a step closer to the future. Though hand picking is still preferred by winemakers for fruit des- tined for high-end wines, mechanization has a fit for production-based wine grapes and growers who face labor shortages. Mechanical grape harvesters, with bow-like rods that knock berries off the cluster to leave the rachis behind on the vine, have been in use for decades. A draw- back to mechanical harvesting has been inclusion of leaves, sticks, stems, and other MOG (material other than grapes) with the fruit. The newest generation of grape harvesters can selectively de-stem and sort MOG in the field, eliminating need for additional sorting and de-stemming at the winery. Last year, Good Fruit Grower reported on new optical sorting technology being used by wineries on the crush pad to cull unwanted grapes, seeds, or stems (see "Optical sorters come to wineries," November 2014). Good Fruit Grower recently watched a state-of-the-art grape harvester in motion at Cold Creek Vineyard, one of Ste. Michelle Wine Estate's oldest and most prestigious vineyards in Washington. The harvester, the latest model from Pellenc, a French wine and grape equipment com- pany, was wrapping up one of the earliest harvests and warmest growing seasons on record at Cold Creek. Joe Cotta, manager of Cold Creek Vineyard near the Columbia River's Hanford Reach, expected to finish grape harvest around October 10, two weeks earlier than normal. He used up to 60 percent more water this summer compared to normal years because of New harvester leaves MOG in the field New Technology Selective mechanical harvesters help improve wine quality by delivering cleaner fruit to wineries. by Melissa Hansen TJ MULLINAX/GOOD FRUIT GROWER New mechanical grape harvesters have field sorting capability and can eliminate the need for de-stemming, a task normally done at the winery.

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