Today I saw a demonstration of the very latest, state-of-the-art, Grape Harvesting Machine. It doesn't just harvest grapes, it sorts, cleans and classifies the berries as well as – or better than – we've ever been able to do with our hands and eyes.
Most farmers here have used harvesters to save money for years. Only those few aiming very high up the quality ladder have retained their troops of pickers to do things carefully and gently. But now here's a machine seems able to do better than humans.
Not sure yet. But tests and comparisons on finished wines will soon show. It isn't very eco-friendly, that's for sure. But here, straight economic survival seems more important just now.
I can't help but reflect (as you do a lot at my age) that when I first came here in 1965 the methods, involving horses, oxen, human beings in clogs or bare feet, their muscles (considerable), wooden tubs and concrete tanks .... Nothing whatsoever - NOTHING - had changed for a thousand - almost two thousand years. The Roman, mortar-lined tanks I came here to excavate on the archaeological dig by the church I am sat looking at, were no different from the ones still being used.
In my 44 years coming here, now that this Spaceship has landed, EVERYTHING has changed.
Viticulturally-speaking, I am now 1,800 years old.
And I feel it this morning ... but that's because we, at least, are still manually harvesting. And it’s hard.