At Frind Estate Winery, each and every one of our grapes pass through a series of machines called Optical Grape Sorters. Fruit sorting has always been a part of winemaking, because nature rarely provides us with a perfectly ripe, homogenous cluster of grapes that is free of damage from animals, insects or disease. Historically, grape sorting was performed by humans but technology has proven its superiority in this arena for efficiency and accuracy.
The challenge of growing the ‘perfect grape’ begins in spring; the process of flowering to fruit set in a bunch of grapes is never uniform, as weather and insects can affect every stage of growth. With each berry growing at a different rate, the ripeness in any one cluster of grapes can differ throughout the cluster. To make the most of the bounty that mother nature provides us, the freshly picked grapes are processed through our Optical Sorters. At a capacity of 8 feet/second or 5 tonne/hour, the destemmed berries are deposited on a high speed conveyor belt that passes under cameras, which perform the task of identifying and sorting. The camera is linked to a computer which scans and compares every grape to a database of berries, where the parameters have been set for factors such as size, colour, ripeness, deformation, disease and the presence of foreign objects.
Optical sorting technology allows us to make the very best wines because we have eliminated grapes that may be underripe, bird-pecked, dehydrated or otherwise flawed. It also ensures extraneous matter such as leaves and stems are removed, which reduces astringency and bitterness. The resulting wines are ‘cleaner’ and express their varietal character more readily and with enhanced intensity.
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