The Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester

Grape harvester shows inventive design to relieve the labor of hand picking.

| October 2007

  • Mecca-Nized 1
    The Mecca-Nized grape harvester working in a vineyard.
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 2
    Leonard Mecca’s grape harvester on display. The final unit built, this 1978 harvester has never been used in the field.
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 3
    Discharge conveyor extended to convey harvested fruit and juice to a waiting wagon.
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 4
    The front of the harvester showing the pivoted “fish scale” paddles, shaker fingers and the elevating conveyor moving on its downward path to gather more grapes and juice.
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 6
    Above: Bank of control levers mounted on the tractor’s fender, all within easy reach of the operator. Each lever controls a different hydraulic motor on the harvester, such as shaker fingers, conveyors and blowers.
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 5
    A double row of pivoted, spring-loaded paddles. As the harvester is pulled forward, the paddles swing back to allow the vines and trellis to pass through while providing a platform to catch grapes as they fall. The double row of fingers vibrates rapidly to shake grapes from the vines.
  • vineyard.jpg


  • Mecca-Nized 1
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 2
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 3
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 4
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 6
  • Mecca-Nized Grape Harvester 5
  • vineyard.jpg

Grapes: How do you get them from the vine to the wine press? You pick 'em, of course. Until the middle of the 20th century, grape harvesting was done much the same as it was in Biblical days: by hand.

A labor-intensive task carried out by a large work force, the traditional grape harvest required grapes to be hand-picked, carried to vats between rows, lifted high enough to dump into wagons, then moved to the press. It was back-breaking work. According to Leonard Mecca, Lake Worth, Fla., modern technology was slow to arrive in the vineyard.

But mechanization was inevitable. By the late 1960s, farm workers were increasingly hard to find and labor costs were high. Although a few attempts were made to find a way to harvest grapes for wineries, most of the effort focused on devising a way to lift heavy vats of harvested fruit into wagons.

In the late 1960s, Leonard's father, Vito Mecca of North Collins, N.Y., began development of a machine to shake grapes from clusters on the vines. Vito owned a John Deere dealership in North Carolina but also maintained a large vineyard. Looking to balance the demands of operating both enterprises, he needed a less labor-intensive way to harvest his grape crop. He began designing his own grape harvester.



"By trial and error, my dad built a contraption that straddled a row of grapes and shook them loose," Leonard recalls. "That first year during harvest, dad kept a mechanic and welder with the machine. It almost shook itself apart."

Vito designed the machine - dubbed the Mecca-Nized grape harvester - to be completely hydraulically operated: the shaking mechanism, steering, conveyors, blowers and leveling device. A 50 hp tractor is required to pull the harvester, and an additional tractor pulls a wagon alongside to carry the grapes.

Dave
11/14/2018 2:41:04 AM

Lenny hope your doing good sure was good reading this article I remember watching my dad and your dad build this machine I am figuring out how to make it shaken how to make everything work I'll tell remember I'm doing the stake puller in Lantana and I got to drive that while they tweaked it a piece of History made by two great men I'll never forget your father and my father working side-by-side they got along very well always laughing and joking anyway glad to know one of them machines are still around at least I'm going to get to the museum and see it the next time I'm down there take care your friend Dave Brewer




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