After a cold start to the year combined with late, wet flowering, this year has brought with it lots of challenges but it hasn’t stopped the vines. They have now entered their last task of the season - ripening. Though the yield is hard to predict, we’ll know more when we begin harvest in the last week of September. We are delighted this year to have a larger team to help us - Jeanette and Clare will be joining Adrian, Marcus and Adam along with our ever-trusty gang of pickers.
This month’s blog focuses on the frantic task of harvest prep. We chatted to winery and cellar door supernova Clare Butcher who filled us in on what we’re up to.
However prepared you are, harvest is always an incredibly intense time with a lot of physical work and fast decisions to be made.
Before harvest, we need to clean the press, strip down every tank, barrel, pump and elevator - making sure that absolutely everything is spotless. It’s not for looks though - even a small amount of dirt or old yeast could alter a ferment.
As well as the meticulous cleaning regime, all winery and vineyard equipment must be carefully tested and signed off. This includes the calibration and testing of specialist lab equipment used for assessing grape pH, acidity and Brix (sugars). Smaller items such as density meters made of glass will need to be checked for any signs of damage and larger items of equipment such as scales for weighing the crates of grapes as they arrive in the winery. The list really does seem endless!
In the vineyard, we’re closely monitoring the ripening fruit, keeping an eye on downy mildew which can decimate a crop in a short amount of time.
One of the last jobs we do before harvest is laying out all the crates for the pickers. All our grapes are harvested by hand and the crates will be laid out in the vineyard rows - it’s a job that often goes on into the night. By the light of the tractor, we follow behind unloading and strategically placing the crates ready for those lovely plump grapes to be gently placed into the following morning.