First machine harvester brought to Australia

Date or time period: 1969

The first Upright Grape Harvester was imported into Australia in 1969.  In 1968, Mildara Board member and vineyard supervisor Bob Hollick and Peter May from the CSIRO toured the USA inspecting the grape harvesters that were being developed there.

The makers of the Upright Harvester supplied a machine for the CSIRO as well as Cornell University sent out its development machine, also a Chisholm Ryder machine was sent out to the CSIRO for trial work. A Mildura firm, Patterson Engineers, had also made a machine which was being trialled at this time.   According to the Chateau Mildara website, legend has it that the reasons the Americans were so keen to have trials done in Australia was a threat from the Mexican Revolutionary leader Che Gueverra that he would have all the Mexican grape pickers in California strike if work continued on developing mechanical harvesting in California.[1]

Initial results with the UR machine were not promising so the picking head was removed and used with a locally developed tow behind machine.


  1. Chateau Mildara News and Events. Accessed 9 June 2010.