This year, we have embraced a new method of harvesting our grapes, machine harvesting for the first time, having always hand-harvested our grapes in the past. This will involve driving along the rows a harvesting machine which knocks the grapes off their stems, collecting them as it goes. Although the majority of wine we drink is harvested this way, it can be quite a contentious decision to move away from the quintessential, romantic notion of hand-harvesting, but there are also a great deal of benefits which we’re looking to explore with machine-harvesting.
As with all decisions, there are pros and cons between machine-harvesting and hand-harvesting, but the quality of the resulting wine is not one of the defining differences. There has often been an argument that hand-picking grapes, as we have done with our previous vintages, provides a more artisanal approach to winemaking, with a supposed reputation for higher quality wines. In reality, machine-harvesting can produce the same, or even better results, as long as it suits the circumstances of the individual vineyard. Advancements in the technology of harvesting-machines have come a long way over the last decade, making them much more gentle and precise in their approach, negating the argument that this method is detrimental to the grapes.
This option allows us to choose the optimum time for picking, when the grapes are at perfect maturity, and get it done in a much shorter space of time. We are lucky that our vineyard is a very short distance from our winery, and with this method we receive cool, freshly picked grapes with their quality preserved, which can then be pressed immediately, yielding the highest calibre of wine. When it comes to the crunch, the proof is in the tasting and the quality of our wine is always our highest priority. Our method of harvesting is just one of a great number of factors we consider in order to produce the very best of ‘Mereworth’ in each bottle, so we can assure you that in this sense, nothing will change!