Posts Tagged ‘harvest’

Here is the news from winemaker Sam –

“The harvest is safely in – a very small one this year due to rain at flowering causing a poorer fruit set than we anticipated. The good news is that we had very good ripeness and, for the first year ever, did not need to add sugar to our red wines!”


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Here is the latest news from Carr Taylor about the harvest –

News from the vines is that we finished picking all our 37 acres by the middle of October. The late burst of autumn sunshine really brought up the sugar levels for our grapes and indications are the 2011 vintage is going to be a corker! The wines have all been put to bed for the winter, and we all have to play the waiting game until the Spring.


Sounds good.

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Wonderful day had on Thursday!  Irma from Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard rang early in the week to see if I was available to come and help with the harvest and I jumped at the chance.

Early start required and we pickers were all at the vineyard just before 8am.  I was very excited to be picking at the Bodiam Castle vineyard – this could be one of the most beautiful views for grape-pickers in England!  We arrived in convoy, and early in the morning the Castle is absolutely breathtaking.  Misty and magical.

No doubt that I should have brought the wellies though.  The grass and the nettles that relax among the vines were extremely dewy and made my old trainers sodden.  Wet feet all day is not what the doctor orders, but I seem to have got away with it.  Many thanks to Kiwi Giles who leant me some waterproof trousers.

And amazingly, I didn’t cut myself with the secateurs.  They were bloody sharp.  But it’s interesting: you definitely get into a rhythm when you’re cutting. 

Inge gave me some good tips at the beginning, and then you just settle in to the clipping and catching.  Two or three small bunches of Bacchus grapes collected in one gloved hand as the other snips.  Reminded me that I need to get back to the surgery and ask about the vasectomy.

And before I knew it, we were stopping for morning break and a quick cup of coffee sat with WOOFER Elizabeth (that’s ‘worker on organic farms’ for those of you who, like me, didn’t know the lingo).  It’s so lovely- when it’s a choice, and you’re not doing it every day for a pittance – to be able to do some manual work instead of sit in front of the computer.  The clipping became quite meditative and was punctuated by little bursts of conversation with your picking partner – because you go down the vines in twos – one either side, so as to be quicker and not miss any grapes.  And we talked a bit about our lives and interests, and a Julian Barnes novel or two.  Very civilised.

And then, before I knew it, we were stopping for food.  And a sit at the top of the vineyard overlooking the castle munching my packed lunch of oatcakes and cheese and apple, with the clouds scudding by and the sunshine warming the face – and the soul.

The afternoon’s work was a bit different, and saw us trundling a rough-hewn cart up and down the vines collecting the crates of grapes in a way which felt quite appropriately medieval given the context.  The wasps were having a field day: purring drunkenly as we hoiked the crates and stacked them on the trailer behind the tractor at the bottom of the field.

And in a flash, it was time to down tools and get back in the car and head up to Sedlecombe to pick up our liquid earnings. 

A thoroughly magical day collecting the Bodiam Harvest.  I will drink my next bottle with just a little bit more pleasure!

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Had wanted to go for a trip to Ridgview this week but glad that I checked the website first – they are closed over harvest time.  I sent an email to try to arrange an interview, but they are obviously busy among the vines!

Here is a note from Mike Roberts giving a few thoughts about the 2011 vintage…

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