Get into gear for the 2023 grape harvest

It’s never too early to start planning how you’re going to bring in your 2023 grape harvest. While many vineyard owners and managers in the UK will continue to focus exclusively on hand-picked fruit, demand continues to increase for machine harvesting solutions.

During our Pellenc demonstration day, the consensus among vineyard managers and winemakers was that mechanical harvesting will be necessary for future grape harvests, particularly if labour costs and shortages continue.

For still wine varieties, mechanical harvesting seems to be a no-brainer and wineries are adapting their receiving lines to make it easy to accommodate dolavs and lorries.

On the sparkling front too, a contract grower in Herefordshire has invested in a Pellenc this year and his entire crop will be machine harvested and used for fizz production.

Last year we also delivered a Pellenc Grapes’ Line 80 trailed mechanical harvester to a family-run vineyard in East Sussex for the 2022 grape harvest, and on the contracting side, Sam Barnes, of SJ Barnes Ltd, continues to run two Grapes’ Line 80s to cover around 200ha per year. 

There is no doubt that mechanical grape harvesters are a more economical option when it comes to bringing in the final crop, costing around £90 per tonne for an average yield of around 10t/ha. 

“Anyone with over 60Ha would find it justifiable to invest in their own Pellenc,” said Sam Barnes, founder of SJ Barnes and specialist vineyard sales advisor at NP Seymour. “But it is not just about buying the equipment. You need to ensure that you have a skilled operator to drive it and the infrastructure in place to cope with the logistics.”

If you are looking to move away from hand harvesting, the Pellenc Grapes’ Line 80 lends itself perfectly to vineyards here in the UK. The trailed harvester features a hydraulic tow bar for better manoeuvrability, meaning it can cope with the tight headlands we normally see in vineyards which have been planted with hand harvesting in mind.

We also believe that the Pellenc has an unrivalled sorting table which carefully removes unwanted matter (MOG) and diseased fruit on the go. 

According to Sam, who travelled to New Zealand to research the different makes and models, it is far more selective than the other mechanical harvesters. 

It is very effective at ensuring only the best sample of fruit ends up in the bins as you are not just relying on a de-stemmer and fans to remove leaves and debris. And it also has a much gentler cleaning method, which will be important for those looking to use mechanically harvested fruit for sparkling wine production.

For more information on the Pellenc range of mechanical harvesters, as well as the other grape harvest products NP Seymour offers, please phone the office on 01580 712200 or email