Case Study: Danebury Vineyard Harvest
Danebury Vineyards is a 7 acre boutique vineyard nestled in the Hampshire hills, situated in Nether Wallop near Stockbridge. We have been growing and harvesting our grapes to make our still and sparkling wine for over 25 years.
As you may know English wine is gaining a reputation for consistent quality and is now to be found listed in supermarkets and top restaurants and pubs.
It is wonderful to think that from now until the end of October, there are around 400 English & Welsh vineyards large and small, up and down the country, getting ready to harvest their grapes.
At Danebury our grape harvest is always done by hand. This year was no exception and on the morning of 3rd October 2015, our small vineyard team and 30 friends and neighbours set off to harvest the early ripening Madeleine Angevine grape, from which we make our easy drinking dry white wine, and from which it takes its name.
The day started out at 8 am in a traditional English mist, and once the pickers were bolstered with bacon butties and mugs of tea, they were briefed by our estate manager on how best to collect the grapes.
The pickers were assigned two to a row of vines, one on each side, searching out the bunches of grapes part hidden by the vine leaves, snipping the stalks with secateurs and dropping the grapes into their buckets. When the buckets were full, our vineyard team ran up and down the vines collecting the full buckets and replacing them with empty ones. The full buckets in turn were emptied into smaller boxes which were then all loaded onto a tractor and transported to the winery for immediate pressing.
The harvest is a convivial affair and the sound of the chatter of the pickers mixed with birdsong in the hedgerow, interrupted by the chugging of the tractor taking its load down the vineyard, makes for a bucolic scene.
By the time the last grapes were picked the vineyard was bathed in warm early autumn sunshine, and after their hearty lunch, the pickers were secure in the knowledge that the result of their careful handiwork was on its journey from grape juice to becoming fine white wine.
Danebury Vineyards will have two more harvests this year and use the same method each time involving the local community; over 100 people will have helped pick our grapes, and by participating in the harvest they get an excellent insight into English wine making. We talk to them about how English wine is made and about the English wine industry, and hope they take this knowledge home and spread the word.
Danebury Vineyards work closely with some of the premier chef-owned restaurants in Hampshire, and our wines are stocked by some of the top Hampshire wine merchants; we are delighted by their support of Danebury wines and English wine in general.