November / Harvest
All of the wines and ciders are now a’slumber: in barrel, steel tank, plastic and glass. They are settling out and stabilising post-fermentation. Some appear to have even started malolactic fermentation given the unseasonably warm autumn, which also helped our pied de cuves and wild yeast ferments initiate.
Whilst the 2022 harvest exceeded expectations in terms of the quality and ripeness of all of the fruit, we would have liked more grapes! However, we are not complaining – we have beautiful, disease-free and ripe organic fruit to work with.
This year we have evolved our wine-making to include oak barrel-fermentations of cider, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, using old barriques kindly donated by a fellow winemaker. We also fermented some cider on Chardonnay skins left over from the winemaking, in addition to the usual Pinot Noir skin contact. And…we ran a small batch semi-carbonic red wine ferment using Pinot Noir to help with rosé blending (with some leftover for a few bottles of still red, all being well).
We are not complaining – we have beautiful, disease-free and ripe organic fruit to work with.
So, plenty of strings to the bow but all in an effort to create the same three drinks: (i) a sparkling rosé cider, (ii) a sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and (iii) a sparkling Pinot Noir.
All of our wines will be made from organic grapes with zero additions; i.e. no added yeast, sugar, chemical agents of any kind, and zero filtration, disgorging or dosage.
Natural. English. Sparkling. Wine.
And one further development in an effort to improve our sustainability: we have procured crown caps that are printed with our logo to eliminate the stickers we used to use! In terms of materials, our only footprint is a glass bottle, one label and one crown cap. The label is easily removed to enable bottle reuse, meaning we have managed to reuse c.20% of the 2021 bottles sold so far.
Now, our minds turn to seasonal sales – it is useful to sell the wine, as well as make it! Which means tours and tastings, some local markets…and more labelling required.
We are also into planning 2023: we have a new oak-framed barn built in the same style as our 250-yr old Tithe Barn, to help us support the farm, vineyard and wine-making activities, and for any drop in customers to enjoy. We will use this to enable wine tastings and cellar sales in the vineyard itself. All over-looking the adjacent Site of Special Scientific Interest, Hodgemoor Wood.
And we have some super-interesting collaborations in the works…Soil Association, nutritionist, other potential farm / ecosystem users, local outlets and volunteer / community days.
We can neither believe how far we have come, nor wait for what is next!
Richard adds the following rather wonderful postscript about a different aspect of regenerative farming, how being in a natural environment and doing something productive, helps to centre one’s self:
One of our volunteers, Huw Jenkin, who is taking a sabbatical from a very busy life as a corporate solicitor, wrote the below after helping collect and press apples from our orchard. It moves me that what we do can provide something pretty profound for people. We always had the ambition of mental restoration as well as physical and environmental restoration and this was the first tangible evidence we can give it.
My father planted an orchard.
57 trees, positioned by Pythagoras.
They struggled at first —
The orchard was high and exposed;
Marine winds barrelled through.
He spoke of narrow trunks and weak branches;
Of strengthening stakes and steadying ties.
I nodded politely and asked nothing.
But when the apples arrived
They crowded every branch;
Half-grown trees sagged like willows.
My father meandered a path through the flowered grass
To walk alone amongst his regiment.
And now I pick apples.
Another orchard; another time.
Here too they grow dense as grapes;
Bows bend as if drawn by archers.
There is a tool for this. I set it down.
I want to feel the weighty spheres in my hands
And the vivid strength of stalks before they break.
My hands envelop the smooth green fruit
As his hands, impossibly large and strong
Once wrapped securely around mine.
Every apple picked asks a question.
Why did I not listen? Why did I not meander?
And why, in his army of trees so overwhelmed with life
Was there not some life left over, for him?
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