Author: Jack Grey
It was Monday 14th September this year that marked the dawn of the harvest. Alongside Nico Centonze and Josh Ravell-Gough, Stanlake Park’s accomplished winemaking team, a group of five plucky workers set about the demanding task of hand-picking the grapes.
The first day began at a rather dewy 9am, where we started harvesting the Optima berries under the careful guidance of Nico and Josh. We were lucky enough to be blessed with brilliant sunshine that morning, but as time progressed we realised just how hot it had become. The picking, however, moved quickly and methodically. We finished our first run at around 11am, interrupted only by the regular squawk of the bird scarer. Next on the agenda to harvest, was the exquisite walled garden. An hour and a half later, this area had been cleared and we were ready for a swift lunch.
Our subsequent task took place on the top field. This is the section of vineyard at the upper part of the hill, accessible by crossing the sheep-dotted plot of land next door. It contains Stanlake Park’s largest portion of vines and is where the majority of our work took place. To access the field, Nico drove us in the new tractor-trailer. This bumpy ride quickly awoke anyone who was feeling a little dull after their meal. We were soon far from Stanlake Park’s cellar shop and winery, and looking back on a magnificent view of the manor house while the neighbouring woolly residents eyed us warily. Thus began the sweltering afternoon. Picking under the intense sun, our energy began to drain. The group, however, soldiered on admirably until the 4pm finish.
As I was staying on the estate itself, Nico asked me to continue helping him and Josh at the winery. We began by processing the grapes picked that day. This involved much heavy lifting, straining seldom exerted muscles. We used machinery to remove the stems, and to press the grapes, which was followed by a thorough cleaning of all the equipment. The end of the day came at 5pm with a wave of satisfaction at a job well done.
Tuesday started with another tractor ride to the top field where we had previously downed tools. The crates remained, marking our point of departure. We were soon amidst the vines and battling the tendrils under the baking sun. Secateurs could be heard snipping, and the containers quickly filled up. The group made excellent progress for the rest of the day, and we packed up knowing the finish line was firmly in sight.
The third round on Wednesday proved to be the last. Beginning on the top field, the troop picked the remaining matured grapes and then shuttled down to the vines by the walled garden where we had begun. We concluded by picking the final rows, and with the boxes filled and loaded onto the trailer, had completed our work just before midday.
Harvest 2020 Summary
The harvest this year was a great success, accomplished quickly and efficiently. It proved to be hard work, but worth every bead of sweat. We return in a few weeks time for a final run of picking, but this will be a quicker affair.
If you live near a vineyard yourself, I would thoroughly recommend approaching the management to become involved in any volunteering help that they might require. There is much work to be done so many are open to assistance. For those who need a little encouragement, here are some reasons for participating: most importantly, gaining a deeper appreciation for the final product, also, having the opportunity to meet like-minded wine fans, breathe some welcome fresh air in beautiful surroundings, and benefit from a day of thorough exercise.
We look forward to introducing the wines from this year’s harvest to the market, but until then, do check out what we have in store. Keep tasting!