Bad grapes only lead to sour wine, and wineries know they must be discarded before they ruin the batch. Yet, even in Northern California's multi-million dollar wine industry, separating good grapes from bad is still done by hand. That's why one local winery now employs a single machine capable of doing the sorting work of a dozen people.
The device is known as the Delta Rflow high flow rate sorting table, and it was built by Bucher Vaslin. It measures about 3m long and utilises high speed photography to quickly cull 1800kg of freshly picked grapes in just 12 minutes. "Most wineries can sort about two tons an hour, using 15 human sorters," Steve Leveque, head winemaker at Napa Valley's Hall Winery, where the machine resides, told Modern Farmer.
The system works by building a composite "ideal grape" — generated from the images of 200 hand picked "perfect" grapes fed into the machine each morning — against all the grapes that follow. Loose grapes are then fed en mass into the sorter where a high-speed camera captures 10,000 images per second, which are then analysed and compared against the ideal. If the grape is within acceptable appearance limits, it continues down the line. If not, it's blasted into the reject pile by a puff of air. [Bucher Vaslin via Modern Farmer]