05 October 2016

Vendanges à la machine

I went out yesterday morning with my camera, hoping to see a group of people hand-picking grapes. No luck. I did see a big blue harvesting machine running up and down the rows of a vineyard plot planted in white-wine grapes (probably Sauvignon Blanc).


A couple of hours later, before lunch, I snapped a photo of the tractor that was working in tandem with the harvester (Fr. vendangeuse) as it drove by our kitchen window on its way back down to the winery to deliver a trailer-load of grapes.


It was followed closely by the vendangeuse itself. I wonder what one of those machines sells for. It must represent a huge investment by the winery owners.


Above is the machine à vendanger working out in the vines earlier in the day. The Domaine de la Renaudie has about 60 acres planted in grapes and produces about 230,000 bottles of wine annually, including more than 20,000 bottles under the new Touraine-Chenonceaux appellation. It's a big operation, but family-owned.


It seems to me that nearly all the red-wine grapes — mostly Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Côt (or what is now being called Côt/Malbec on labels) — are still hanging on the vines. I'll be interested to see how many of those are harvested by pickers and how many by machine. The grapes above are just outside our back gate.

11 comments:

Seine Judeet (Judith) said...

I love the bright sun in the first two photos. It makes me feel like I'm looking at a photo taken on a bright, crisp day. Was it? Or was it warm?

Ken Broadhurst said...

Bright and crisp, yes. Not really warm but not cold either. Dry and sunny.

Evelyn said...

That New Holland tractor has an interesting history that began in Pennsylvania. It includes Ford and Fiat and a French company, too.
Globalism has been happening a long time.
http://agriculture.newholland.com/ir/en/WNH/whoweare/Pages/alonghistory.aspx

Diogenes said...

Those purple-blue grapes look so perfect. I wonder how the tractor actually plucks the grapes off....

Emm said...

I wonder if the various vineyard owners can share ownership of those expensive machines? Or perhaps they can lease them when needed.
It looks like a good harvest.

Ken Broadhurst said...

The harvester shakes the vines hard enough to cause the grapes to fall off the vines. The little stems in the bunch stay on the vine. The grapes fall on a conveyor belt that carries to the storage vat. There's a detailed description in this PDF file in French.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Thanks for that, E. I didn't think of New Holland, PA.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Here's a very good video explaining how the grape harvesting machines work.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Such big machines can probably be leased, but some of the wineries seem to own theirs. I know there is a local association of vignerons who help each other out by sharing equipment when somebody's tractor, for example, breaks down, and by lending a hand when needed. I'll have to ask whether Bruno and Patricia own or lease the harvesting machines they use.

Diogenes said...

Thanks for this Ken. One wonders how they came up with these marvels. ;-)

C in California said...

Yes Ken, thanks for this description. I had been wondering how they "picked" the grapes mechanically.