Blog break for harvest

Wine harvest dates can be hard to nail. This Spring the vines started early so harvest dates were pencilled in early; mid-September for our Bordeaux vineyards, early October for our English vineyards. Then, cool August pushed the dates back to end-September and mid-October. But warm September brought them forward again, only for them to move back again on account of the weather being so good we’d be mad not to let the grapes soak up more sunshine.

Result was we started last week, Friday 2nd October in France and will start – we think – a week later in the Thames Valley. I’ve been scuttling back and forward to France and back every week, recently, and that continues, because of things in the diary that can’t be moved. So I have not always been in the right place when the action started. Sod’s law.

Sitting around in airports does however give me some time to write my history blogs. But not quite enough to finish any. So there will have to be a pause until all the grapes are in. Harvests, as I guess all farmers know, dominate all thought.

I’ve always thought it a blessing that vintage time coincides with Party Conference time. We always manage to miss all those speeches. Shame!

I am very happy that in France all our Merlot is now safely in tanks; black, juicy and almost 15 degrees. So we can expect a very good wine this year as merlot is the bulk of what we make. The very old vineyard at Le Bourg is the only one still out there. Older vines take their time like old men do. But their grapes look very healthy and taste better than all the rest. The weather forecast is good. So we will just wait.

The Cabernets, which take longer to ripen are still out there of course. But they too look 100% healthy – no rot – so we are quite relaxed about them, too. If the weather breaks we will whip them in sharpish but meantime they are enjoying the warm Indian Summer like us.

Our new cellar is therefore full except for one small tank for the remaining Merlot and one big one for the Cabs. Apart from a slight waste water drainage issue the redesign has worked a treat. The place is bright and airy and easy to keep clean. A big step up. We had a time-lapse camera in there last week. Plan to put the film on the web. Should be fun. I’ll see what they get up to when I am not around.

Tomorrow I fly to the UK again and Friday we start harvesting the black grapes at Harrow & Hope, Marlow. I will be on crate washing duty as usual. Sunday we harvest the black grapes at Windsor Great Park. Dates for the white grapes Chardonnay … dunno yet!

Today I have a party of Laithwaites people to show round La Clarière and Le Chai au Quai.

So must dash.



About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!