Our first harvest was about bees, birds, mildew and rot at PumpjackPiddlewick

We were given the go ahead to work on our restoration vineyard in September. Right in the middle of harvest time. Talk about thrown in the deep end. The plus side is from the get go we would know what we were dealing with: bees, birds, mildew and rot. At least it highlighted what the priorities would be in the vineyard in the next year.

So what types of grapes did our vineyard have? Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the classic combination for a sparkling wine. A fairly even split between the three over the 1.5 hectares. However, the Chardonnay were in very, very bad condition. Many of the vines are dead or not yielding, and there is almost no foliage. In the end we only harvested a bucket full.

The Pinots were in slightly better condition and had more fruit, but still were suffering the ravages of bees, birds, mildew and rot. As we harvested we had to throw away a good third of the grapes.

There was also a very real question of when to harvest. Much of the fruit really needed to stay on the vine to ripen more. But a good portion of it was rotting and this could spread. As well it was attracting flocks of birds and bees wanting to eat the fruit. On top of this(!), the dry, sunny weather we had had all summer had decided to change to rain. It made it quite a difficult decision of when would be best to bring in the grapes.

In the end we did it in stages. We harvested the Chardonnay first, since there was so little and we simply did not want to lose more of it. Also, with so little foliage it was not really going to ripen any further. We also harvested a little of the Pinot Noir since it was in the best condition and one corner of the vineyard had ripened very well.

We then set up scarecrows to fend off the birds and tensely waited, watching the weather, watching for more rot, watching for ripening. In the end we didn’t really get our window of sunshine and decided to harvest most of the grapes sooner rather than later.

It wasn’t much of a harvest, but it was ours. Our first, and hopefully our worst. A rather weird thing to say, but we have great hopes that things can only get better in the vineyard.

Now it was on to make some wine…

Our Finding a Vineyard Series (in order)

1. Following a Dream

2. How to Find a Vineyard in France (or not)

3. Finding a Vineyard in France (or not)

4. Finding a Vineyard in Burgundy

6. Our First Harvest – Winemaking, cleaning and beer

7. Our First (real) Harvest – A limited edition success

Shop Wine Lover Gifts in our Shop

As wine makers ourselves, we are always on the search for interesting, unique and particularly French wine items for our vintage and antiques shop. Here’s a taste of some of the things we have found:

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