Our very first harvest took place yesterday when we picked the Chardonnay and Seyval grapes from the 5 acres of we planted in May 2009.
The yield was much smaller than we had hoped for, mainly because of the poor pollination and fruit set at the end of June, but also because the pheasant decided that they would dine out on the Seyval during the last two weeks. The pheasant are a real problem and we will have to develop a strategy for dealing with them before next year. In total we only picked about 700kg but the fruit was of excellent quality and we should be able to produce around 550 bottles of top quality English sparkling wine.
The whole process took much longer that we had anticipated, probably something to do with the two hour lunch break! Those who survived the whole day finally finished picking at about 5.00pm, which meant that we didn't get the grapes to the wine maker, Dermot Surgrue, until after 7.00pm. By the time we had weighed the grapes and watched the start of pressing it was 10.00pm - a long day!
Tomorrow we will be picking the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This will be used to produce a still Rosé (hopefully available next year), but some may be use to blend with the sparkling.