A South African company has created a device that makes it easier for grape growers to measure brix levels in the field.

The patented Brixmaster, made by Western Cape-based Prospective Innovations CC, is used in the field by laborers and relies on specific gravity to measure brix levels.

Before the Brixmaster, growers relied on refractometers or, in the field, on the old-fashioned “taste it” method, said Prospective’s David Harris.

The Brixmaster is easy to use and costs less than a tenth of a refractometer, he said.

The higher the sugar level, the higher a grape’s specific gravity, Harris said. Within seconds, the Brixmaster will indicate if a grape is above or below a desired level.

Pickers attach the Brixmaster to their waists with a belt clip. To operate it, they put a grape into the Brixmaster. If it floats in the unit’s calibration solution, the sugar content is too low. If it sinks, the grape is sweet enough to be picked.