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Tribune, The (San Luis Obispo, CA)
June 6, 2003
Section: Business
Edition: Tribune
Page: D1
Column:Wine Notes

IT'S MAN VS. MACHINES IN VINEYARD TEST
Raven Railey
The Tribune

In its quest for excellence, the Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association Quality Alliance is meeting this morning to take a closer look at machines.

The alliance, formed about two years ago, studies how different vineyard techniques affect the taste of finished wine. The goal is to help local winemakers and grape growers produce better vintages -- and elevate the region's reputation.

To that end, more than 110 local industry folk will gather at French Camp in Shandon to take a look at devices like a shoot thinner, which mechanically removes excess vine shoots to get more light on the fruit. Right now, about 99 percent of thinning is done by hand, said Neil Roberts, grower chairman for the PRVGA.

The group will taste wines that come from grapes thinned by hand and those thinned mechanically.

"We're looking for consistency," Roberts said. "If you can get consistent wine quality with a shoot-thinning machine -- as consistent as someone who does it by hand -- it's a lower cost" to growers to do it mechanically.

Other machines to be examined include berry thinners, leaf pullers and over-the-row tractors, he said.

Raven J. Railey writes every Friday about grapes and the local wine industry.

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Copyright (c) 2003 The Tribune




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