Grape Growers of Ontario - Trevor Falk

Let's meet the next grape grower who grows the wine we love! This is Trevor Falk. He is a grower from Niagara-on-the lake.

Trevor Falk, Ontario grape grower
“You might say that wine runs in my blood. In the 1930’s, my grandfather was one of the first farmers to recognize the Niagara region’s grape-growing potential and in the 1970’s, my parents became pioneers in the industry. Even as a boy, I looked forward to the day I’d take over the family operation, and I’ve already got plans for the 4th generation of Falks”.  - Trevor Falk, Ontario grape grower

4th generation in the making!
How cute is this little guy!

In the video Trevor gives us a small glimpse of a typical day during harvest.  I know that sometimes people romanticize harvest and what fun it must be to gather the fruits of the vine's labour. I know I do!   I always forget that harvest is downright dirty hard work along with long hours. Trevor mentions how he used to help with hand harvesting when he was younger. With the advance in technology of mechanical harvesters, what used to take days to complete, can now be finished in hours.

What's the difference between hand and mechanized harvesting?

Picking by hand is expensive and to harvest an entire vineyard can take days. However, having that human contact, the grapes can be more scrutinized. Rotten or unripe clusters can be excluded and "MOG" can be further reduced. MOG stands for material other than grapes such as leaves, twigs...bugs...animals...well, you get the point. Picking by hand is much gentler on the fruit so there is less of a chance that the grapes will get damaged. If the grapes break open, they're exposed to air and yeast. This is a big problem because it causes oxidation and premature fermentation.

Mechanical harvesters move above vines and gently vibrate them so that the grapes are separated from their stems. This process must be a gentle one because you don't want to ruin the vines in the process. You also don't want to have “MOG” mixed in with the picked grapes. That'll just create more sorting work once the bins reach the winery.A machine can generally pick about 5 tons of grapes per hour. That's a lot. That's a lot more than hand pickers! Speed is the greatest asset of a machine harvester. It can gather the fruit and have it brought to the winery right away. This brings down the cost for producing the finished wine but it can also save a harvest if extreme weather conditions threaten the harvest and the fruit needs to come in quickly. Harvesting by machine can also be done at night while the temperatures are cooler which preserves the fruit.

We always hear how high quality wines are associated with hand harvesting. However, more and more producers are switching to either mechanical harvesting or a combination of the two. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

To read more about Trevor Falk:

Let's support our local growers by continuing to drink local wine! Go Local! :)

The Grape Growers of Ontario have been featuring different growers during key points of the grape growing season.

Early spring with Prince Edward Country grower, Debra Marshall

Discovery berry formation with the Funks in St. Catherines

Verasion in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Kevin Watson

Beginning of harvest with the Mitchell family of Lake Erie North Shore

Meet Ontario grape growers on