Last week, I visited the largest wine cooperative in Heilbronn in the south of Germany where the weather and soil conditions are suitable for growing wineyard. This cooperative was created in the 19th century so it’s a legitimate organization gathering wine growers since generations. In the last decades it gains in popularity and today 500 producers belong to it.
In the global market, it’s important for farmers to come together to make their voice heard both on the political and economic field. The cooperative achieves this and ensures a stable and fair price to the wine grower.
For the farmer, being part of this cooperative is the insurance of selling his grapes and get a fair financial reward from it. Moreover the cooperative manages the transportation and processing of the grapes. The farmer just has to keep in touch with the cooperative to know when to harvest the fruits.
The harvesting of the grapes has to be done when the weather conditions are optimal and the cooperative facilities ready to receive and process the grapes, thus it has to be plan carefully within a 4 weeks time window. To use heavy machinery and avoid compaction, the soil has to be dry and therefore the cooperative waits for sunny days before sending the combine harvester to farmers. The cooperative facility can process 700 000 kg of grapes per day separating the different grapes harvest by varieties and origin.
Half of the grapes are harvested with a combine harvester, the remaining fruits on the plant are harvested by hand. Plants located on steep slope cannot be harvested with the combine harvester.
The grape harvest is usually done in september by elders, students or workers from eastern Europe (e.g Poland). Harvesting wine is a very nice cultural experience and I’ll definitely try it out, moreover the worker can choose to be paid with the bottles of wine produced from his hard work!
For the farmer, using the combine harvester instead of workers is more profitable: harvesting by hand costs about 1400$/ha while with the machine it’s only 800$/ha. The combine…