Chapter 33

Harvesting Wine Grapes

(book excerpts)

The harvesting of wine grapes is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking. Manual harvesting and mechanical harvesting are the two routes that a wine grape grower can take to get the grapes off the vine and ready for the crush. Hand-harvesting affords more precise selection and tends to do a better job of protecting the grape’s juice content from oxidation due to damaged skins. Mechanical harvesters allow for a more efficient, often cost-effective, process and are well-suited for large vineyards that lay on a flat patch of earth. In general, sparkling wine grapes are harvested first (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) to ensure lower sugar levels followed by most of the white wine grapes. Red wine grapes are typically next in line to harvest, as they take a bit longer to reach full maturation. Finally, the dessert wines make their way to crush after undergoing some dehydration on the vine to produce a raisin-like grape with highly concentrated sugars.

Click on the following topics for more information on harvesting wine grapes.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • Manual Harvesting
  • Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Mechanical Harvesting
  • Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Vineyard Physical Configuration
  • Ground Slope
  • Turning Radius
  • Row-spacing
  • Trellising
  • Varieties
  • Mechanical Harvester Configurations
  • Dedicated Harvesters
  • Tow-behind Harvester
  • Multi-function, Self-propelled Units
  • Mechanical Harvester Options
  • Types of Picking Heads
  • Trunk Shaker
  • Pivotal Striker and Bow-Rod Picking Heads
  • Selected References