May 2017 Issue of Wines & Vines

Mechanical Grape Harvesters

Latest generation of harvesters is faster and gentler

by Andrew Adams

With all of the features available in the latest generation of mechanical harvesters, the winery crush pad is essentially operating on wheels. Most suppliers now offer onboard destemming and sorting, meaning their customers’ days of receiving bins filled with smashed clusters, MOG and sprinkler heads are long gone. The machines featured here all come with destemmers and sorting systems standard, or they are offered as optional add-on equipment. Most machines collect harvested and sorted grapes into large bins that are then dumped into gondolas or half-ton bins, but a few can also be configured with a side discharge conveyor that empties into bins being pulled by a tractor running alongside the harvester (see photo above). Some suppliers also sell harvesters with sorting and destemming systems that can be towed by a tractor. It’s important to check with manufacturers to see if your vineyard works with harvesting and other functions such as mowing and spraying, which the machines are capable of performing. Cross arms and quad trellising, for example, don’t do well with mechanization. The machines are not cheap and start around $300,000, but vineyard managers who have made the investment can set pick dates and times with certainty, and that alone may be worth the cost.


The Optimum is Pellenc’s newest harvester. It features the latest generation of Pellenc’s onboard-sorting system, the Selectiv’ Process 2, which the company claims can bring in 99% clean grapes. According to Pellenc, the new Optimum is the most compact and lightest harvester/tractor on the market and offers a turn angle of 95°. The all-wheel-drive harvester features a Perkins Tier IV engine that uses 43% less fuel per hectare than previous versions. An “Activ’” harvesting head employs a sensor to maintain the correct position while traveling down a vineyard row. The center-positioned cab offers 310° of vision (which the supplier claims is the best on the market) and silicone shock absorbers for a comfortable and quiet ride. An “easy drive” joystick is mounted on a fixed pivot, while a touch console is used to monitor and adjust all operations. Two cameras, including one on the harvest module, provide additional monitoring capabilities. The Optimum also features a quick connect point for Pellenc’s range of implements that do not require separate tools to be connected. The harvester offers a bin capacity of 2,600 to 3,600 liters and a fuel tank capacity of 190 to 260 liters. The latest Optimum model, the XLE, can be configured for side discharge. Pellenc reports the machine can pick 25% faster than the previous model at rates of 15 to 20 tons per hour. Price: $350,000 to $440,000 depending on selected options.


The 9090X is the newest self-propelled harvester produced by New Holland under the Braud brand. The machine is designed for vineyards with a row spacing of at least 5.9 feet (1.8 meters) and features a six-cylinder engine that produces 175 horsepower yet is 35% more efficient than previous models. An “intelligent management system” matches engine output to power needs, reducing engine power when the harvester is turning between rows or when the shakers and fans are not on to enhance fuel efficiency. Each shaking rod operates independently and is set on a flexible fixation bracket. The 9090X has a turn angle of 90° and a system to monitor wheel speed to provide extra power to whichever wheel needs more traction. The harvester can be equipped with two grape-collection bins or one bin and a side discharge arm. Other features include a GPS row-tracking system to show which parts of a vineyard have been harvested and an automatic leveling system. The 9090X can harvest up to 19 tons per acre. Braud offers its optional “Opti-Grape” system that includes a set of pre-sorting rollers to remove MOG followed by a SOCMA destemmer that separates the berries from the stems. The destemmed grapes then pass through an air cushion that blows out any remaining leaves. The Opti-Grape system is available on the company’s 9090LA, 9040MA and 7030M models. Price for the 9090XA (with two storage bins) is $442,302; the 9090LA with Optigrape is $473,367.


The Grapeliner 6000 by German vineyard-equipment manufacturer ERO features a cab with a glass floor to provide a direct view of harvesting action, plus two color cameras and a touchscreen control panel that the operator can use to control all operations and switch from just harvesting to picking and destemming. Introduced to the U.S. market in 2016, the Grapeliner features a six-cylinder Deutz engine with a power range of 155 to 175 horsepower, a steering angle of 90° and a speed control and auto-steer option as well as an automatic leveling system. Storage bins range in size from 2,200 to 3,000 liters of capacity, and the harvester can be set up with a conveying discharge arm. A multi-fan blower system removes leaves and other light MOG from a single-belt conveyor that leads to on-board storage bins. ERO started offering an optional destemmer on its machines in 1989, and the Grapeliner can be fitted with the Vitiselect system that features a traditional destemmer plus optional roller sorting tables. The sorting tables can be set to lead to the conveyor when using the machine as a continuous harvester. The machine can manage 12 tons per acre, depending on bin size, and can be operated in vineyards with 5.5-foot row spacing. Price: Starting at $310,000.


Gregoire offers a range of harvesters that can be equipped with the company’s various sorting and destemming systems. Distributed through Blueline Manufacturing and Equipment in Moxee, Wash., the G7-240 can harvest up to 12 tons per acre with row widths as narrow as 6 feet. The machine is powered by a Deutz four-cylinder engine that produces 123 horsepower and is compliant with the latest emission-control standards. Integrated anti-skid and auto-speed features are standard, and the harvester has a 90° turn angle and semi-automatic leveler for the harvester module. The central cab is equipped with a multi-drive joystick control and touchscreen with a graphic to quickly gauge the process of filling the machine’s bins and two color cameras. The harvester has 14 shakers and can pick as low as 15 cm. Two 1,500-liter bins provide for a total of 3,000 liters in onboard storage. Optional destemming and sorting systems include the latest system called Easy Clean, which offers a simple design and low maintenance, and the Clean-Tech system, in which grapes are destemmed on a slotted conveyor belt that can be followed by the Vario roller sorting table. Larger models of the company’s harvesters offer more engine power, storage capacity and side discharge capabilities. Price: $287,000.,

The Oxbo 6120 is made in Lynden, Wash., by Oxbo International Corp. and features the company’s “Advanced Vintage Technology,” which includes a destemmer and sorting belt mounted in the center of the machine. The supplier claims its system of “soft touch” rods gently remove grapes, and the sorting system can remove 99% of all MOG. Because the destemming and sorting system is in the center of the machine, the 6120 can be used with two on-board storage bins that offer 3,000 liters of storage capacity, a side discharge arm or a storage bin and side discharge arm. The system also allows the operator to choose to bypass the sorting system entirely and use Oxbo’s standard separating system that employs three fans. The machine is designed for high-tonnage vineyards. All-wheel drive and Tier III John Deere engines that provide 140 horsepower are standard. The center-positioned cab provides the operator a view from directly above the vineyard row. Other features include joystick control, touchscreen and monitor for the machine’s camera. Options include a “high-performance ground drive” for more power while driving on roads and hillsides and automatic steering. Oxbo also offers a FleetCommand system for remote data reporting, turn-by-turn directions and other fleet-management tools. The company is now offering the PremiumSort option on its 6220 trunk-shaker grape harvester. Price: Check with the supplier.

Print this page   PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION   »
E-mail this article   E-MAIL THIS ARTICLE   »
Currently no comments posted for this article.