In Buellton, CA USA, you can find a calm and cozy private vineyard called the Lavender Oaks. This vineyard is managed by Michael Benedict, one of the pioneers of wine industry in Santa Barbara region in California. He established the first vineyard on Santa Rosa Road in 1971 with his friend Richard Sanford. It became the first world class vineyard in cool climate winegrowing region. Sanford & Benedict is also one of California’s most historically significant and renowned vineyards, because it proved two things: Santa Barbara County is a perfect place for growing Pinot Noir, and the portion of the Santa Ynez Valley where it is located, is a fabulous cool climate location for vines in general. Nowadays neither of these two pioneers are in commercial wine making business, but the vinery and wines still carry their names.
For Michael making wine is a way of life, he is nowadays mentoring other vineyards in the area. Before he became a vintner, he was an academic, a botanist with U.C. Santa Barbara. He started to make research about growing wine and decided that he can either write a book about how to make wine right or do it himself.
Right equipment for all Vineyard jobs
Michael started to make wines in Lavender Oaks 2012 when he planted his first vines there. Last year he got the first harvest from this ranch. Making wine is a delicate job. The plants are sensitive to sudden climate changes and it takes years before a newborn vineyard starts to make harvest. Lavender Oaks ranch handpicks their grapes early in the morning.
Michael has Avant 528 on the ranch as a helper for all the daily tasks around the year. “I ended up buying an Avant by an accident two years ago. We drove past the local dealer’s place and this Avant was standing outside, so I could see it. I made a U-turn and went to buy this loader”, tells Michael with a smile on his face. Michael had been looking for a small and agile loader with 4WD and large range of attachments for a long time. “This loader is like my Dream-come-true!”, laughs Michael. Avant manages all the logistical tasks including transporting grapes to the warehouse from the fields.
“This is a spectacular loader, just perfect for working in a vineyard. It has all the good features that I require for a loader. It is versatile and agile, and so performs well with all needed tasks,” praises Michael.
The vines grow in tidy rows with quite narrow aisles. Therefore a loader must be able to fit to the fields without harming the plants. While the work requires an agile machine, it also requires good lifting power so larger amounts of grapes can be carried to production.
“When all the wine makers here in USA understand what this small loader is capable of, you will be in trouble at the factory”, laughs Michael. The best part is that with this power horse you can take care of the lawn, do all the logistical work and use it year around as a help in all maintenance tasks.
The 528 is one of a range of compact tool carriers available from Finnish manufacturer Avant Tecno. This model is powered by a reliable and economical Kubota diesel engine developing 19 kW (26 hp) and also features an articulated chassis and 4-wheel, hydrostatic drive which provides outstanding manoeuvrability and traction at all times. There are over 100 compatible attachments for the Avant 528 loader.