Harvest has begun!
It is tradition at Hattingley to mark the start of harvest with all of the team getting stuck in to pick the first grapes. Sales, marketing, logistics, finance and the winery teams down their usual tools and exhange them for some snips and a bucket and join the vineyard team to harvest the small amount of Pinot Noir Précoce we have planted in the Test Valley.
For the past couple of weeks we had anticipated the annual Pinot Noir Précoce picking day would be this week, but thought it would be on the Thursday or Friday and then at the end of last week expected to be on the Tuesday. Upon arriving at the winery yesterday for the weekly team ‘Monday Morning Meeting’ we were told “it’s forecast to rain all week, it’s sunny now so we’re picking today!” Everyone donned their wellie boots and hit the road to venture over to the vineyard.
Each year head winemaker Emma Rice, marks the occasion by sabering a bottle of bubbles. This year Emma was to sabrage a magnum of Hattingley’s 2013 Rosé (the Rosé has been a favourite for this event for the past few years) although in all of the hype of getting everything and everyone organised, the bottle was left behind at the winery... Fortunately there was one person who hadn’t left the winery by the time this important realisation occured so the magnum made it’s way to the vineyard and the opening celebrations could begin! See whether Emma was able to make it on the first attempt again in the video at the bottom of this post.
After a bright and sunny start to the day, a little into the afternoon we were unable to avoid the showers but the team continued to pick all of the fruit before returning to the winery, admittedly slightly damp! This year we picked just under 3 tonnes of fruit which is to become a unique component of the rosé blend in achieving the beautifully pale and delicate pink colour that our rosé is renowned for.
Pinot Noir Précoce is an early ripening clone of Pinot Noir which is why it is the first grape variety to arrive at the winery. When the fruit arrives at the winery we destem the berries from their bunches and then cold soak them on their sinks with daily punch downs to keep the cap wet before pressing the juice off and vinifying as a red wine. We use the Pinot Noir Précoce in the blending process for the colour as well as to give the wine body and flavour, this typically is in the region of 2% - 5% of the blend.
One of our harvest-helpers this year is Alice who joins us from Australia where she is an experienced winemaker. Alice actually helped Emma during our very first harvest in 2010 so it’s wonderful to have Alice return to Hattingley for the tenth memorable pick from this vineyard site.