We started harvesting the Pinot Noir on Easter Friday, beginning with clone five, and continuing through yesterday with clone 777. The conditions were perfect, even though we had a heavy frost on Friday night, it meant the grapes were nice and cold, sitting in the boxes waiting to be trucked up to Matahiwi in Masterton, about 26 kilometres away, to our winemaker, Jane Cooper.
On Friday the gang – some 20 workers – picked 11 tonnes – and on Saturday the same. They worked really hard, some exceptionally good workers there because hand-picking grapes is not easy. It’s a lovely sound, hearing those bunches fall into the small picking bins, then those bins emptied into the large wooden bins – about 6-750kg capacity. The job was much faster this year following the purchase of a new trailer. It’s narrow and low, and is towed behind the small Kubota tractor. The previously distributed picking bins (now full) are emptied into the large wooden bins which are then off-loaded by the forklift and stored by the barn before transport to Matahiwi. The tractor driver (the QC) goes up and down the rows with a crew emptying the small picking bins into the large wooden bins. For the pickers especially, the trailer has been a godsend.
The brix came out at between 23 and 24, about perfect for Jane’s, Nick’s, and our liking, for our James Pinot Noir.
We still have over half the Pinot Noir to pick, starting Tuesday. When the nets have been lifted up, and the bunches clipped away, the vines look like Victorian ladies stripped of their dignity.
With fabulous warm days, clear blue skies, a full harvest moon, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions. It’s been a wonderful vintage, despite the few setbacks like the wind, so here’s hoping our run of happiness continues for the Pinot Gris, Syrah and Viognier.
Look at all those lovely grapes, just waiting to be made into nectar which someone will enjoy in 2011: