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How to Motorize a Hand-Crank Grape Destemmer the Easy(ish) Way

Wine Grapes that have been freshly picked and put into plastic buckets.

Once you pick (or buy) your grapes and turn your thoughts towards wine, the first step is to destem and crush the grapes. For the home winemaker, using a milk crate as a grape destemmer and then stomping on the grapes to crush them are easy and popular methods to accomplish this. As our vineyard has grown, we decided that these methods were just not cutting it anymore. While you can buy a commercial grape destemmer, they tend to be larger and more expensive than what we would need for our small home operation.

A milk carton held firmly to a silver bucket with clamps, in order to make a cheap and easy grape destemmer for the home winemaker.
A milk carton makes a cheap and easy grape destemmer. It’s hard on the arm muscles though!

Start with a Hand-Crank Grape Destemmer

What we needed was something in the middle: a smaller destemmer that also crushed. The problem is that these models tend to be hand-crank. Something like this would still be a significant upgrade to our cobbled-together milk crate operation, but I just can’t let something be manual if a more automated option exists.

So we scoured online marketplaces and came across an Italian-made Marchisio destemmer/crusher for just over $200. The price was right and it was within driving distance to go pick it up.

OK, so we had the destemmer, now how to automate it?

Automation is Key

I did a check online to see if a factory motor option existed, and indeed it does. With a price tag of $1500 and an “unavailable with unknown ETA”, that’s a big NOPE!

Luckily I did find a few pictures of this mythical motor mount and it was not too difficult to replicate it in 3D CAD using the original mounting location. My final mount was printed in PETG for strength. ABS would probably work too. If you want to try this yourself, then follow along!

A 3D CAD image of a motor mount that is being prepped for 3D printing.
This will help solve our grape destemmer woes!

Build of Materials:

Clicking on the Amazon Associate links in this article helps me pay the bills–and write more articles!

  • A manual grape de-stemmer/crusher. I recommend trying to find a used one, but if you like your tools new and shiny, you can get one here.
  • 3D-printed Motor Mount, Electrical Switch Mount, and Bushing. We sell the set here, or download the files here to print yourself.
  • 48 frame 1725 rpm 1/4 HP (or more) motor – make sure it has the proper mounts from looking at the picture
  • 1″ bore x 10″ OD pulley
  • 1/2″ bore x 1.5″ OD pulley
  • A40/4L420 V Belt – 1/2″ x 42″ OC
  • Waterproof switch box (and attaching screws if needed)
  • 9 ft. or longer 3 Wire 15 amp replacement cord
  • 1 x hex bolt, 1/2″ x 9″ – motor mount to frame
  • 1 x hex bolt, 1/2″ x 3″ – adjuster
  • 4 x hex bolts 5/16″ x 1-3/4″ – motor to mount
  • 2 x 1/2″ nuts, 2 x 1/2″ lock washers, 4 x 1/2″ washers; all covered by this set.
  • 4 x 5/16″ nuts, washers, and lock washers; all covered by this set.
A set of 3D printed parts for mounting an electric motor and switch to a manual grape destemmer.
Automation, here we come!

Attach the Motor to the Grape Destemmer

The motor bolts up to the mount using the 5/16″ nuts, bolts, washers, and lock washers. The whole mount is then bolted up to the built-in mount on the destemmer using the long 9″x1/2″ bolt with a nut, washers, and lock washers.

Mount the Switch Box Panel

To mount the switch box panel, the nut holding the hopper is loosened or removed, the panel is slotted into the hole (might need some force) and then the nut is reattached. Note that there are no holes in the switch panel for mounting because every electrical box seems different so those can be tapped for screws depending on the box. Or, even better, use self-tapping screws.

A 3D-printed part for mounting an electrical box for the purposes of automating a grape destemmer.
The Electrical Box Mount will need to have holes tapped for screws to match your particular electrical box.

The remaining 1/2″ bolt goes through the bottom of the mount using two washers and nuts to hold it in place.

The switch is wired from an electrical cord, through the switch, and then out to the motor. Make sure that the ground is connected the whole way and not run through the switch so that there is always a ground on the motor.

Check the motor’s documentation for how to wire it up.

A motor with wires running to a switch, attached to the side of a grape de-stemming machine.
The mounted motor with wires going to a switch.

Install The Pulleys and Belt

The hand crank needs to be removed completely and then the large pulley installed on the lower shaft. The shaft diameter is 13/16″ but the only 10-inch pulley I could find was for a 1-inch shaft so I made up a bushing to fill the gap. A metal bushing would have been better, but the plastic one works OK. A longer set screw might be needed depending on what pulley you use.

A 3D-printed bushing
Can’t find a 10 inch pulley with a 13/16 inch shaft diameter? We couldn’t either. This bushing will help!

Putting the belt on is simple. Make sure the adjuster bolt is most of the way “in” before trying to slip it over the pulleys, then tighten it up to be snug. The motor mount is plastic, so not too tight!

A pulley and motor set-up attached to a grape de-stemmer in order to make it automated.
The finished set-up, showing the belt and pulley. The motor is running, spinning the pulley and turning the crank. Destemmed grapes are coming out of the hopper into a waiting bucket.

Time to Make Some Wine!

So how does it work? Perfectly! I couldn’t be happier with the results. What would have been hours of cranking turned into minutes of automated joy. That said, one certainly wants to be cautious when this thing is churning away. Those gears look mighty unforgiving while in action. For safety, I would not recommend standing near them!

A motorized grape destemmer processes grapes.
Look at it go!

While I would not recommend this mount for heavy-duty commercial use, it is plenty reliable for the backyard winemaker.

There you have it: an inexpensive, motorized version of a grape destemmer thanks to the miracles of 3D printing. Take that, Italy!

A hand-crank grape de-stemmer with an attached motor, automating the de-stemming process.
The now-automated Grape Destemmer churns away, preparing grapes to become tasty, tasty wine.

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About the Author

James Geary

I'm a system administrator by day and a 3D-printing wizard by night. I take care of the printers at

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