Automatic grape-picking machines have been around for many years, but they were traditionally associated with cheap wines, as dexterous careâ€”the care of a human handâ€”was required to ensure healthy grapes. That is changing. Today, as in nearly every other aspect of agriculture, 21st century technology is perfecting machines that do a job that once required dozens of skilled workers. The Pellenc Visionics Grape Sorting System, developed in wine-technology hub France, is a gyroscopically stabilized vibrating conveyer belt that uses cameras and targeted puffs of air to sort out imperfect grapes as it shakes them off the vine.
According to vintner Mike Miller, owner of Airfield Estates in Washingtonâ€™s Yakima Valley, these machines not only allow for more timely harvesting, they also waste fewer grapes in the field.