Countdown to harvest

September at the vineyard is a bit like the run up to Christmas for children. We eagerly await the moment when the grapes will be ripe enough to start the harvest. Harvest can be anywhere from a few weeks into September, right up until the end of October, depending on the climactic conditions in the growing season.

Unlike last year, where we experienced several heatwaves during July and August and had very little rainfall, in 2023 we had a very warm June, and quite a bit of rain and overcast weather with high humidity in July and early August. This led to mildew forming on the grapes and we had to remove bunches that were damaged and covered in Powdery Mildew. We also had to increase the number of times we spray the vines. We have now eradicated Powdery Mildew entirely from the grapes in the vineyard, which means we now have to hope for a little more sun to help the grapes to ripen.

The grapes are now going through veraison, which is easier to spot in red grapes as the fruit itself starts to turn from green to purple when the chlorophyll is replaced with anthocyanin. But it is not just the grapes that change. We can also see how close to harvest we are by changes in the leaves. As the grapes ripen, energy is taken from the leaves, which begin to turn red and orange (but maintain their green veins).

When both the grapes and the leaves look like they are close to being ready, we start to check the sugar levels in each of the grape varieties. Some varieties will ripen earlier than others, so we need to ensure that we check them all. We collect 25 random samples from each variety and use a refractometer that is set to the Oechsle scale, which measures the density of the grape must. This will indicate a grape’s ripeness and sugar content. When we measure the must, we need to ensure that no light gets in as this can affect the reading. Once the sugar and acidity levels reach the right point, it is time to harvest.

The one final thing that can directly affect harvest, even when the grapes appear to be ready, is the daily weather. If it is raining, the grapes will swell up with water and both the sweetness and the acidity levels will be affected. This is when we keep a close eye on the weather forecast and the skies above our heads.

 

Would you like to join us for harvest?

We are always keen to have helpers at our harvest. It is a great way to get to know our customers and our local community. Harvest days start at around 9am, with a cup of tea or coffee, a biscuit and maybe a small glass of last year’s wine to toast the start of what we hope is another bumper year. Harvest lunch, with wine, is provided, as are snacks and tea and coffee throughout the day.

We give all the training that is needed and provide clippers. We recommend wearing a pair of gloves as the clippers are sharp and the grape juice is sticky. You do not have to spend the entire harvest with us, but you can pop in for a morning or afternoon or for a few hours when you have time.

If you are interested in helping out with harvest, please drop us a line at info@poultonhillestate.co.uk. We can’t give you a date when harvest will start yet, but it is looking like mid-October. We will inform everyone nearer the time.

 

Wine by the glass

We now sell wine by the glass at the Cellar Door in Poulton. Please pop in to see us to have a glass of wine and chat. If you find a wine that you particularly like you can then buy a bottle or two, or even a case, at our special Cellar Door prices.

Our Cellar Door is open Tuesday to Friday from 9.30am to 3pm.

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