Harvest time is here and with a cooler summer than we’ve seen in recent years, we’ve returned to our more common late September start for the 2021 vintage.
Our first day’s picking took place on 21st September, with our team of local pickers starting with Ortega, our signature variety and always the first to ripen. We pick all of our grapes by hand, which means we are able to select the very best quality grapes, when they are at optimum ripeness, using both our own experience to judge by eye paired with regular testing for sugar and acidity levels.
As a family run business, living on site means that we can be totally reactive to the grapes and a decision can be made to pick each variety with a moment’s notice. Pair this with the fact that the furthest our grapes will travel from vine to press is 600m, and this means that not only are the grapes perfectly ripe, they’re also as freshly picked as you can get when they reach the press – something which is reflected in the quality & consistency of our wines.
We’ve now picked the majority of the Ortega along with our newest block of Reichensteiner, planted just 3 years ago in 2018 and laden with a beautifully clean crop. It’s now a case of working through each variety as it ripens, usually with the white grapes coming first, followed by red varieties such as Dornfelder, and finishing with Schönburger, on which the grapes develop to a vibrant dusky pink colour unlike any other variety we grow. Of course, the order in which we pick is 100% dictated by the ripeness of the grapes, and we’ll only ever harvest when they are “pick perfect”.
Harvest days are always long, with early starts and late finishes, so if you are planning to visit in the coming weeks, you’re likely to get the chance to see the hive of activity that comes with this time of year – from the pickers out in the vineyards, to the grapes being brought in with me on the tractor and all of us getting involved in loading and running the press in the winery.
Self-Guided Tours are open right through to 6th November, and with the autumn colours already beginning to show, it really is an excellent time of year to pay Biddenden a visit, whether for the first time, or returning to experience the change of seasons and all that comes with the excitement of harvest.