October at Albourne Estate vineyard: harvest in full swing
PUBLISHED: 15:38 21 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:50 22 October 2015
With harvest in full swing, there's a frenzy of jobs for vineyard owner Alison Nightingale at Albourne
Harvest is now finally well underway; all the Ortega and Bacchus is safely picked and the juice is starting its fermentation. This week we’ll be picking all the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and next week we’ll be picking the Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.
Despite the late ripening, the wait has been worth it as we have got some really good fruit. In many ways this is the best time of the year as we get to pick the ‘fruits of our labours’! Compared to just a month ago, the grapes are looking swollen and lovely in the autumn sunshine (below).
Each picking day starts at 7.30am when the pickers arrive. As they start picking, I rush the children to school to be back in time for a quick coffee before starting to collect the trays with our tractor and trailer. The grapes then go straight to the winery to be loaded in to the press within just a couple of hours.
For those working in the winery there are a few late nights now. The press takes approximately four to five hours to extract the juice from its grapes which often means it doesn’t finish its last load of the day until midnight. Generally, this is the time to order in the Indian take-aways and ready meals - otherwise none of us get to eat.
Even in the midst of harvest, we have to be planning ahead, especially with Christmas just around the corner. Keep an eye on our website/Twitter feed (@Albourneestate) to catch details of a special Christmas release we have planned.
• What is it like to run your own vineyard in the UK? - Alison Nightingale, owner of Albourne Estate - I set up Albourne Estate, a 30 acre vineyard and winery near Brighton, in 2010 and last year we launched our first wines. In this monthly column I’ll be telling you about my experiences.