The Vinyard Process
Finding ourselves in the Gironde at harvest time, I became aware that, although I have seen much information about what happens to grapes in the process of becoming wine, I had virtually no idea how grapes are grown or harvested.
The harvester coming and going…
Inside the “tunnel” there are rubber beaters which slap the vine just above where the grapes are hanging. Only the grapes that are ripe will fall so it is crucial not to try and harvest until the right moment. Of course, every day that they remain on the vine after they are ripe is a risk of bad weather which can ruin a crop.
The conveyor, in effect, places a table around the stem of the vine and moves the fallen bunches up to the bins above the wheels in the rear view. There are blowers to get rid of any leaves or twigs that may have come down with the grapes and the exit from the blowers can be seen behind the harvester.
The vinyard owners don’t own the harvesters. They mostly belong to the local cooperative to whom the grapes will probably be sold. Getting access to the harvester on the day you want it is a matter of considerable concern to owners.
Often, you will see the owner following the harvester on foot. He will be looking to see how many grapes are left on the vine after the harvester has passed by. Those are the unripe grapes and are lost income!