Sunday, October 9, 2016

North Coast grape growers seeking more machines to replace vineyard workforce

It can be seen over at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma, which for the past six harvests has used a machine that optically sorts grapes before they reach the crush pad. The machine can kick out up to 4 percent of the grapes that are hauled in from the vineyard, after they have already been put through a destemming machine. The grapes travel at high speed through the machine, where a computer takes a rapid-fire snapshot of the berries, and sorts them out through compressed air into a “good” bin and a “bad” bin.

The rejects are those that are raisin-like, small green berries, have poor color or are an awkward shape. The good ones are then crushed into a must that will be eventually turned into a reserve cabernet that can sell for as much as $125 a bottle.