I was fortunate enough to take part in the first picking of the Oatley harvest on Sunday 26th September. Included in this harvest was my partner Matthew and my two nieces Ellie 12 and Rhianna 8. They had to join in by default but all seemed keen and not to many moans on the 7am wake up call!
The sun is shining – no rain jacket needed.
We arrived at 9am to the smell of hot coffee and home made apple juice, perfect! Everyone started to arrive and we had 19 in total. We made our way up to the vines where Iain went through health and safety and the correct technique in cutting the grapes. We would only pick the large ripe bunches of grapes. There are a second small bunch that grow that we don’t pick as these are not ripe and would make the wine bitter.
Oatley has two grape varieties and we picked Madeleine Angevine which is the early ripening grape which will make the wine Jane’s, this is a herbaceous lemony clean crisp white wine.
There were plenty of wasps around wanting the juice from the grapes.
Off we go along our chosen vine with a secateurs in hand. There were plenty of buckets so you could use one as a seat if needed as bending over can be a strain on your back. Once we had filled our small buckets up we carried them to the end of our vine to fill the bigger containers. Matthew had a the job of loading all the large filled containers on to the truck.
11.15am stop for coffee, juice and home made cake.
Back to work… It was really interesting as you go through the vine and how just in one line the grapes ripen at different rates. This only confirms how vital it is to get the right positioning for a vineyard and how important pruning is to allow sunlight and air circulation.
After 12 and a drop of 2009 Janes is uncorked, will our 2010 pickings be as tasty?
Milo the dog came to give us a hand, no time to play!
We then worked through till all the grapes were picked… 100 big containers later, loaded on the truck and we were done. Sticky hands, red faces, sore backs, nettle stings, wasp stings and a cut from the secateurs. That was just Ellie and Rhianna! But still smiling and satisfied with our days hard work.
The grapes will be taken away first thing Monday morning to Shepton Mallet where they will be crafted in to wine.
Iain opened up bottles of their reserve Sparkling Wine, delicious, delicate bubbles. It helped the sore back just melt away.
We were then privileged to join Iain and his family for a tasty home made 4 course meal, with lots of wine.
It was a fantastic experience and its great to get involved. I felt it was educational for Ellie and Rhianna to have an understanding, appreciation and education about alcohol.
See you all next harvest time!