The accompanying photos are intended to give you a feel for what goes on during our harvest. Each of our 2 harvests this year required a 12 man crew.
In the accompanying photo you see the small white bins on the ground that each worker uses. The crew cuts off each cluster by hand and drops it into the small bins. When a small bin is full, it weighs about 25 pounds. In the past, each worker would carry his filled bin to the end of the row and dump it into the large macro bin. The worker would then walk back to where he stopped and repeat the process. That process requires much walking with a heavy bin.
For the first time, we put a forklift on the rear of our tractor and put a macro bin on the forklift. Gerry drove the tractor in the rows next to the rows the men were harvesting. As they filled their bins, they dumped them into the macro bin on the tractor. When the bin was filled, Gerry drove it to the edge of the vineyard. The vineyard manager used his forklift to lift the bin onto his truck.
The vineyard workers and we appreciated the improved efficiency. Each harvest took about 3 hours. That is substantially fewer hours than prior years.
Using the tractor to harvest is a bit tricky. The macro bin is 48 inches square. The vineyard rows are 60 inches wide. You can see in the accompanying photo how little space there is between the tractor tires and the vines.
It’s a 9 month process that began with pre-pruning in mid-January. We’re relieved that it’s over. Now we prepare the vineyard for winter and pray for rain.