Vinehealth Australia attended a recent workshop in McLaren Vale where Grower Engagement Officer Jodie Armstrong provided important tips for executing a smooth vintage. Here they are:

Tip#1: Ensure gates are wide enough for trucks to enter your vineyard. Gates should be wide enough for vehicles to enter without having to undertake multi-point turns to avoid damaging strainers or gate posts.

Tip#2: Ensure sufficient area for turning. Create sufficient areas for transport vehicles and harvesters to maneuver to avoid damage to plant and equipment. This will ultimately save time and money and may be worth sacrificing a few vines for.

Tip#3: Create a flat, preferably sealed area to load and unload bins. Bin loading and unloading can be a dangerous operation with heavy loads being lifted. If conditions are dangerous for unloading empty bins, they will be far too dangerous to load laden bins. Sufficient flat area is also needed to ensure forklifts and other equipment can safely move around transport vehicles and stack bins out of the way, ready for use.

Tip#4: Trim trees at entrances to your vineyard, along driveways and on headlands for harvester and truck clearance. With much harvesting performed at night, low-hanging branches and those limiting access can be a significant hazard.

Tip#5: Sufficiently light the loading pad. Having a well-lit workplace in which hazards are readily identifiable, including people, buildings and other vehicles, is a must for a loading pad. While vehicles have headlights, they may be obscured when handling fully laden bins. Having a well-lit wash down area is also critical for ensuring machinery and equipment are properly cleaned of soil and plant material, helping with vineyard biosecurity. A well-lit area is also conducive for correctly completing the documentation required to accompany a load to the winery.

Tip#6: Provide the right water in the right volumes. Clean water must be able to be accessed. Potable water must be available for mixing PMS when adding as an antioxidant to harvested grapes. When undertaking harvester washdown, the provision of a garden hose is not going to be suitable to enable timely and effective cleaning. Taps and pumps need to be easily accessible and operators need to be provided with training on how to turn them on.

Tip#7: Manage dust. Dust can be a contaminant to harvested grapes. It can make sighting and aligning loads on trucks harder and can be exacerbated with frequent loader/forklift movements around transport trucks. Ideally roads and loading areas should be sealed. This also extends to washdown areas, as muddy washdown areas are not conducive to producing clean machinery.

Tip#8: Make paperwork a focus. All loads consigned to a winery will need to be accompanied by some form of documentation which will need to be correctly completed and signed, and provided to the carrier to pass onto the winery upon arrival. Check all documents provided by the winery to ensure you are harvesting on the right night/day and providing the right additions.