Monday, October 24, 2016

Beaujolais - grape harvesting time

Continuing the posts on our visit to Beaujolais... we landed in Beaujolais at the height of the grape harvesting time. Tractors piled with grapes charging all over the place, vineyards filled with workers carrying large baskets. But we were arrested by the sight of a giant blue machine roaring over the vines at one particular vineyard (see pics at the end). We stopped and talked to the proprietor, a genial gent who allowed us to photograph the grape harvester in action. Although the French generally look down on such innovations, the automatic grape harvester is making inroads in France. The government allows upto 40% of a vineyards output to be auto-harvested. The rest must be done manually. These machines cost the earth to hire, but the net savings are about 30-40 % as compared to hiring seasonal workers for manual picking. But the grapevines must be planted in a particular way, and it is only possible on relatively flat vineyards (most are on hill slopes). I guess that is why we saw so few of these machines... most of the vineyards are over a 100 years old and not designed for such brusqueness. 


Here is the proprietor displaying his production license... each vineyard is allowed to produce a particular amount of grape, to avoid overproduction and keep up the prices of Beaujolais wine. Once the quota is over, the vineyard owners generally leave the grapes on the vines to wither away. If you are passing by, you are welcome to harvest it yourself and take it home, for free (with permission, of course) - as we did.


 Here is what the vines look like after the machine has made a couple of passes... just a few stray grapes left.


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