Picking Options - Quality & Cost Implications
Paumanok (Long Island, New York) conducted a side-by-side comparison of Chardonnay made from fruit that was hand-harvested versus machine harvested. Machine quality tended to be better (in this region prone to rainfall during harvest) due to more consistent ripeness and this fruit was protected from oxygen faster than hand harvesting. Hop Kiln (Carneros) notes that running costs of machine harvesting is about $150/acre versus hand-picking at $300/ton or $600-900/acre. This does not reflect the cost of chilling by bringing in the fruit before dawn (which is more easily done via machine).
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