Back in December Vitifruit Equipment visited the Provitis machinery factory. 

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This type of trip is always a joy. It’s a chance to speedily learn about the equipment, meet and spend quality time with other vineyard managers and of course to taste the local wines and beers and thoroughly enjoy the delights of the local cuisine.

This was a two day trip out of Gatwick, arriving at midday for lunch. We then spent an afternoon in a vineyard seeing a machine at work, with an overnight hotel stay in Colmar, followed by factory training in the morning, lunch and back to Gatwick by teatime.

This trip was primarily to learn about the Cane Pulling Out machine, VSE 430, but it also highlighted the very sensible benefit afforded by Provitis where a single mast with universal mounting bracket mounted at the front of a tractor can be used with a multitude of tools such as a trimmer, de-leafer, lifting / tying machine, bud rubber and pre-pruner.

We discovered that the economics in Alsace have forced an almost complete abandonment of bought in contract labour, a subsequent increase in reliance on machinery and a skeleton staff, normally consisting of the owner and family. 

Pruning and tying down are of course done by hand with battery operated tools but thereafter most cane pulling out, lifting and tucking in, de-leafing, trimming and harvesting is done by machine. We saw a prototype cane puller working in a training system designed around the use of the Provitis lifting / tying machine. No movable wires are used and training is on five fixed equally spaced single wires; the whole idea to save huge labour costs. 

It was interesting to note that they have abandoned many traditional hand practices in favour of machines. To put it into perspective, their typical Alsace Cremant is around £12 to £20 a bottle and much more like a Sparkling English wine than a Prosecco.

This Provitis equipment is now being used in English vineyards such as Tinwood, Bluebell, Exton Park and Yotes Court and in addition can be affordably hired from Vitifruit Equipment who also offer demonstrations. Please ask David or Richard for details.