As you might remember, last year John and the boys made a trip to California to see a Pellenc 4560 grape harvester in action. And, then, we purchased it! I must say, it is one amazing machine. So amazing in fact, that I thought those of you who can not physically join us for grape harvest might like to see a "mini" version through video.
With that in mind, last week while harvesting an acre of our Roussanne grapes (a white, French variety and our earliest to ripen), we videoed the process. This is an example in which I use "we" loosely! It was actually our 17 year old daughter doing the videoing. She looked like a sports photographer running from one end of the vineyard to the other and back again. All to make sure there was enough good video footage to give you taste of grape harvest. Well, not literally a "taste", you will have to visit us for that, and if you can, you are welcome!
After the actual harvest was completed, our oldest son (my techie guy) put it all together.
Following the video, there is a bit more about the machine and clean-up.
Before beginning a grape harvest, the machine is lined up on the first row of grapes and set for the proper height - the driver moves the Pellenc up and down as necessary. As you watch the Pellenc grape harvester in action, notice the black rubber flaps on the back of the machine. Inside those flaps - which can be seen as the grape harvester goes drives away from you - are bow rods that literally beat the grapevines. The beating of the bow rods causes the grapes to fall from the vines and the rubber flaps prevent the grapes from flying out the back and being lost. As the Pellenc starts down the first grape row, the amount of beating the bow rods do is set based on how easily the grapes fall off the vines. If many clusters are being left on the vine, the pressure is increased. Maybe we can do another video showing the working parts - sometime!
After harvest is over, it takes the boys about an hour to completely wash the Pellenc grape harvester. Once it is dry, another 30 minutes or so is spent re-greasing the bearings and rollers with food grade grease.
The Roussanne grapevines shown in the video yielded 6 - 9 tons per acre last year. This year, however, because of damage suffered by the late spring freeze they yielded only ½ ton per acre. We are thankful the vines are alive, healthy and had some fruit even if it was not a lot!