Harvest 2018 has officially started! We’ve brought in some early ripening Pinot Noir, Ortega and Bacchus for our first ever still wines over the past couple of weeks, but today our lovely local pickers arrived and it will be non stop action for the next three weeks.
After a small blip at 8am, upon discovering the access road to our first picking site was closed due to a burst water pipe, we’ve had an excellent start and have brought in several tonnes of quality Pinot Noir fruit so far. The mornings have been getting very chilly so we warned pickers about appropriate clothing but didn’t anticipate the need for sun cream today. Long may this glorious sunshine last for perfect picking conditions!
This unprecented summer, with perfect conditions for bud burst, flowering and fruit set has meant we have been carefully observing a bumper crop ripening over the past weeks and we’re finally here.
When we’re picking we look for only the best fruit in terms of quality and cleanliness. That means a perfect balance between sugar and acidity and free from common fungal diseases to the UK such as mildew and botrytis. Quality is assessed through berry testing for sugars and tartaric acid, tasting and appearance. The stalks of the grapes turning from green to brown are also a good indicator of ripeness.
A very important consideration in pressing the grapes is that the bubble in sparkling wine amplifies the flavour. This means that the delicate nuances and fruit forward flavours, which develop beautifully due to our long ripening season in the UK, will be very present. But the skins and seeds of grapes contain bitter oils which we do not want to be introduced into our wines. Therefore we need to treat the grapes very carefully during pressing.
We’ll be picking and pressing in whole bunches on the stalks which protects the berries for very gentle pressing of the fruit and looking forward to tasting the fruits of our labour!