Mick O’Connell on wine: The grape debate on machine versus hand harvesting

Contrary to popular belief, you can get a fine quality wine from machine-harvested grapes, but it does very much depend on the variety and particular situation

Machine harvesting is a quick, efficient and cost-effective way to harvest grapes and can be particularly beneficial for certain kinds of wines; but the nuanced choosing and handling processes of hand harvesting is irreplaceable for other wine varieties

As they move from summer to autumn, the biggest decisions wine producers have to make relate to their harvest: when it takes place, at what temperature and, importantly, how it takes place.

The how really boils down to whether a producer will decide to machine harvest or hand-pick the grapes. Machine harvesting uses custom made machines to shake the vines or hit them with a paddle to remove single grapes, and sometimes whole bunches. The ...