Harvest this year occurred in a particularly rainy fortnight, which is never ideal, but one isn’t able to tell the grapes when you would like them to be perfectly ripe. And so it was that after some ridiculously high temperatures across the UK in September, everyone donned raincoats and thermals to bring in the grapes this year.
The first day of picking was the 13th October, with 50 pickers, and 64 packets of biscuits at the ready. We took in 11 tonnes of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, keeping our fingers crossed that the Chardonnay would reach the right sugar levels soon as the damp meant we were starting to see signs of botrytis in the middle of some bunches, particularly forming around the smaller grapes that hadn’t grown at the same rate as the rest of the bunch.
Then we had 7 days of solid rain and we kept sending off the Chardonnay to the lab for analysis, willing them to be ready so we could get them out of the rain. We cancelled and rearranged our pickers at least twice. On the 19th and 20th we finally got our lovely team back, with 57 and 60 pickers on respective days.
In total we took in 45 tonnes. The pinots were very clean, we did struggled with the sugars probably because of the persistence rain keeping them low. Having said this, the acids were very good. Overall the Pinot Noir did rather better than expected, compared to Pinot Meunier, in terms of the final weights picked of each variety. Chardonnay made up 24 tonnes of this total harvest, but this was effected by botrytis and we think we lost maybe 20% of the crop. Thankfully the fruit we did get in was actually incredibly clean. So congratulations to all the pickers from selecting the best bunches, and making sensible decisions on what to discard.
Now it is all over all we have is a very muddy field, in particular the headlands. In fact, on the steeper slopes the pickers had had to carry the boxes to the vehicles as we couldn’t get tractor down the rows on such wet ground.
The final lorry left Jenkyn Place on the 21st, rammed full, and with pallets of grapes stacked higher than we had ever dare to before.
So now the manual labour is done, we look to the winery to see the magic happen.