As harvest is starting on Tuesday we thought you might like to see how Antoine, our winemaker is getting prepared.
September saw the preparation for harvest really get into full swing as the vineyard saw some new arrivals to the team. Paul, Ben and Felix - our French interns - are here to help Antoine prepare and bring in the harvest this year, coming over from France to learn from Antoine and aid him in his winery work, and see how an English vineyard brings in the harvest. The team have been testing the grapes twice a week to identify when the grapes are ready to be harvested as well as preparing the winery for harvest.
Each variety of grape ripens differently and at different times in the vineyard; this is one of the reasons we randomly test from all areas of the vineyard and over a cross section of the vineyard. These are weighed, pressed and the juice immediately analysed to calculate the sugar and acid content. This allows Antoine to measure the potential alcohol, which then indicates when the ideal date for picking will be. Of the three varieties of grapes grown, it’s the Pinot Noir and Meunier that will be picked first before moving on to Chardonnay.
The date chosen is usually from late September to middle of October, due to the wet weather this year harvest is a little later and we have chosen Tuesday to start our pick. The levels are also looked at against the long range weather forecast as ideally we would like dry weather however if its wet and we have no choice we will pick no matter what the weather.
We also had some lovely new additions to the winery: three more stainless steel tanks arrived from Champagne on Monday and 20 new oak barrels from France were also delivered into the winery this week.
Most of the harvest prep is done logistically from the winery. Detailed plans of the logistics of picking, organising of staff, tractors, picking pins and snips to name just a few. It is so important to plan at this time of year, as we have to have everything running like clockwork in order to give Antoine as much potential quality as possible from the grapes. We have pickers on standby but looking at the results it will be Tuesday all being well.
This is a great time of year as the whole team pulls together, Peter our vineyard manager brings in his team's hard work and hands the grapes over to Antoine to make the grapes final journey from vine to wine.
Cheers to Harvest 2015