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Harvest 2020 has been an exciting time at Bolney with plenty of sunshine, a great crop and our brilliant vineyard and winery teams doing an outstanding job once again.
Due to the perfect weather over lockdown and the continued warm, sunny weather in the two weeks leading up to harvest, our grapes were ready earlier than ever before this year.
We have always been pioneers and are constantly looking for ways to innovate wherever possible which is why, after successful trials last year we have used harvest machinery as well as handpicking this harvest.
We spoke to our Vineyard Manager, Sue, and our Winemaker and Production Manager, Mike, about this year’s harvest:
‘We started harvest on the 14th September, the earliest start I know of at Bolney. We began picking our Rondo vines, with new state-of-the-art harvest machinery. There was a little bit of worry as to whether the machine would work on our high trained vines (the style in which are vines are encouraged to grow), but thankfully it worked a treat and we picked all the Rondo grapes (30 tonnes) in a day!
The machine then picked the vast majority of our Foxhole site grapes, with only rows that the machine couldn’t get to being hand-picked. We finished picking our Foxhole vines on the 29th September, and then moved over to begin picking at our Pookchurch site. Here we used a mixture of hand-picking and machine picking.
There will always be a place for handpicking for making sparkling wines, when whole bunch pressing is an important part of the process. Our team were busy over harvest picking our three sparkling varieties, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, by hand
We successfully finished the whole harvest on the 7th October, also our earliest finish ever!
All the fruit this year was very clean and very ripe, and I was very pleased with the crop we picked.
The machine worked really well, and I think this is definitely the way forward for Bolney and the team.’
‘Our ripeness levels this year were terrific due to the perfect weather conditions we have seen, and the fruit was clean with no disease.
The machine harvester was great. It did mean that we had to be very prepared, because fruit comes in so much quicker than with hand picking. As Sue mentioned, we were delivered 30 tonnes in a day! We have a wonderful winery team though who were up for the challenge.
In the winery, with our new team for this harvest, we tried a couple of different winemaking techniques as we are always testing and improving our methods and products.
Our Lychgate Red and Pinot Noir batches have now finished MLF. Malolactic fermentation is not an actual ferment, but a bacterial process which converts malic acid into lactic acid. The process softens the taste and texture of the wine, adds complexity and character, and stabilizes wines prior to bottling.
All in all, 2020 has been a fantastic harvest and we’re excited to share more about our 2020 vintages with you all soon!’
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