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Stage 4 - Autumn 2005

Throughout September I was in regular touch with Dave Morrison, my Aussie wine maker, who between trips to Georgia and Chile keeps an eye on my vineyard.

The weather was a little unpredictable and we had about four different potential dates for picking the grapes. It is essential to get the sugar levels right and I had an open line to Easyjet so I could jump on a plane and assist in the harvest. As it was, the harvest was consistently delayed and commitments here meant that I could not, in the end make it. The harvest was picked on Friday the 7th of October, starting at 8:00 am and finishing by 4:00. It was, by account, all hands to the deck as two Poles had had enough and gone home and a couple of other pickers failed to show. But Jim, Dave and the crew suffered no more than a few cuts and bruises. Picking grapes is a back breaking business (I have done it in the Douro) and a good deal of concentration is needed when hand picking in order that poor fruit is cut out and only the best and ripest bunches are selected. This rigorous selection meant that the harvest was down on that expected and so I didn't need all the barrels I had purchased. At the time of writing, the wine is gently fermenting in tanks and will then be transferred to a mix of new and one year old oak barrels to age and settle.

Developing a style will be the next task and much will depend on how the fruit and oak flavours balance out. We anticipate a 6 - 9 month oak ageing period but I will be out there in the new year tasting and taking advice. We must make an attractive food orientated

well-balanced wine and establish a market for it in the UK. If we succeed this year I believe the whole process can be expanded. I have my eyes on a patch of Chardonnay and Viognier..... but lets not get carried away! One step at a time- it may still all go badly wrong.

To be continued...