Harvest time at Rothley Wine

I’ve been volunteering at the Kingfisher’s Pool vineyard in Rothley, Leicestershire for a number of months now and the time of year I’ve been waiting for with anticipation has finally arrived! Yes, it’s harvest, time to pick the grapes and get the new vintage underway.

A team of dedicated volunteers showed up last weekend to help pick the grapes and between us we picked an incredible 1.25 tonnes of grapes – which the internet reliably informs me will be enough to make over 800 bottles of wine! And there were a lot more left to pick….

I spent all day on just half a row of Solaris, which I didn’t quite finish picking in 6.5 hours, despite my best efforts – although I did get over 7 baskets of fruit to show for the effort. The Solaris has grown vigorously this year, and it hasn’t yet been cold enough at night for it to start to drop its leaves. The thick canopy can make it difficult to reach, or even see the grapes, which certainly slowed down the progress of the harvest to some extent.

Wheelbarrow full of grape stems anyone?

Sadly, the significant storm that we experienced just 4 days before the harvest led to an outbreak of Botrytis – even more sadly this was very definitely grey rot and not the Noble Rot of the French which creates your beatifully flavoured dessert wines. Cutting out the affected grapes and making sure they were separated from the harvest so they could be properly disposed of also added to the time it took to pick the grapes as well of course as losing those grapes. I was amazed by the mould, which sent out its spores with a great cloud when you dropped them into what I referred to as my ‘Botrytis Bucket’.

As ever, we were royally looked after by vineyard owners Liz and Matthew, who treated us all to fish and chips from Rothley’s own chippy – a much needed and well enjoyed treat in the midst of all of that physical labour. 

The EMT crew in front of the winery

On this occasion I did not get the opportunity to tread the grapes, I think mainly because the schedule was thrown out so much by the arrival of East Midlands Today who wanted to feature the harvest on their evening programme, so of course the presenter was duly up to her knees in grapes in due course. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back to help with some of the remaining grapes, if the botrytis doesn’t take them all, so my time may still come!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.