My husband Mark and myself were delighted to offer our services to help with the harvest at Swanaford Vineyard last week. Swanaford is a very pretty family-owned 10 acre vineyard, found SW of Exeter in the Teign Valley. Ben and Caroline greeted the ten of us keen pickers (and three very well-behaved dogs) with mugs of tea before handing us 'nips' to cut the grapes, a crate to put them in and heading us off to the gentle slopes to get going. The vines for the days' picking were Pinot Noir (they also grow Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Siegrebbe) and the grapes were all at a surprising standing height so no need to bend down. Although the grapes were extremely healthy, the problem of botrytis rot had emerged with vengeance on Ben's Bacchus vines meaning 5 tones were lost this year. So we were careful to flick out the few rotted grapes from the Pinot Noir bunches and keep as many of the bunches/berries as possible. A healthy, juicy 3 tons of Pinot Noir was picked although it will be at least three years before we get to drink the wine ...but having tasted their delicious sparkling Classic Cuvée over lunch with Caroline's delicious home-made pasties, it will certainly be worth waiting for.
You can find their extremely well-made wines here: Swanaford Wines