15 years in the wine trade, countless vineyard and winery visits, but I realised last week that I had never picked a single grape… So I jumped at the chance to head down to Gusbourne for the one of the last days of their 2016 Chardonnay harvest.
We caught the fast train to Ashford and then after a quick taxi ride we were pretty much straight out into the vineyard under the charming and knowledgeable tutelage of Laura Rhys MS.
It is an impressively streamlined operation: the unbelievably swift team of Romanians hand pick into buckets snipping out any imperfect grapes as they go and these are then manually sorted on the back of the tractor as they are taken to the adjoining winery.
In spite of our enthusiasm our best efforts paled into insignificance by comparison with these consummate professionals.
Once dropped off at the winery it is pretty much straight into the press and the capable hands of winemaker Charlie Holland. From the press the juice goes into the steel tanks just a couple of metres away for a long cool first fermentation.
Blending, ageing on the lees, riddling in giro-palettes, disgorgement, resealing, labelling and then a further few months of ageing all happens on site before the wine is ready for consumption around five years after harvest.
So watch out for Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2016, available from early 2021,undoubtedly enhanced by the contribution of the Goedhuis picking team!
With thanks to all the team at Gusbourne for putting up with us amateurs and for a brilliant day.