THE RIDGEVIEW HARVEST
A glimpse behind-the-scenes
If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to know more about the world behind your glass of Ridgeview English sparkling wine – harvest holds all the clues.
Read on to discover why, with our harvest highlights from Ridgeview’s specialist team on the ground.
THE HEART OF OUR HARVEST
Harvest is the culmination of an entire year of dedication in the vineyard. A crucial milestone when our grapes transform into wine, it marks a new phase in the evolution of Ridgeview’s sparkling wines of the future. It’s full of promise, anticipation and excitement, yet rests so delicately on one precious moment in the year.
Nothing beats the buzz about the vineyard in the run up to the harvest period – it’s full of weather-watching, whispers of when it will start and the wonder about the wine it will produce.
Harvest both passes in a flash and lasts for an agonising eternity, balancing on a knife-edge at the mercy of the weather.
It’s an intense period of collaboration between our vineyard and winemaking teams, united by one shared purpose – to produce world-class sparkling wine, working together with passion and care.
The tanks are prepared, ingredients are stocked and our press-loader teams are trained and briefed.
This year we are excited to have installed new oak barrels from France in the winery, toasted on the inside to enhance the delicate qualities that barrel-fermentation adds to the Ridgeview Oak Reserve.
Our winery team have rehydrated the barrels after their long journey to Ridgeview, ready for their first use in 2021.
WHEN TO PICK
The Million-Dollar Question
Monitoring the pH and sugar levels of the grapes is crucial and we’re constantly scrutinising the quality and characteristics.
We measure ripeness through appearance, taste, juice samples, bunch weights and complex analysis in the lab.
Picking the right time to harvest is a science in itself.
There’s a very short window of time when everything aligns and it’s vital to act in an instant.
Row by row, our harvest team carefully hand-pick grape bunches ready to be taken to the press.
The moment the grapes are picked, the clock is ticking to press them to ensure the highest quality of juice.
It’s one of the many joys and challenges of working in collaboration with nature.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
Harvest insights from our team who make the magic happen.
‘At harvest there is an unwavering motivation … someone, somewhere in the future will be enjoying a glass of Ridgeview’s exceptional wine and it all starts with these grapes.’
– Matt Strugnell, Vineyard Manager
Night-shift Supervisor (Winery)
HOW DO YOU PREPARE?
A huge focus of my role is to train our press loaders and cellar hands. It’s not just information and instructions, it’s about bonding together as a team. We’re loading 400 tonnes of grapes by hand and good relationships are what you draw on when it’s 1am and you’re soaking wet!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART?
The smell of the winery when everything is fermenting…and the sounds are beautiful too. It’s the gentle noise of the ferments whirring and the bubbles coming through the airlocks. It taps in to all the ‘other senses’ to hear and smell the wine being made – that’s quite an amazing thing.
DESCRIBE HARVEST IN THREE WORDS
Sugary, damp and beautiful
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?
Rain on a night-shift. There’s no sun to dry you off.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE NIGHT-SHIFT…
It takes a lot more resilience and a deep love of winemaking to see you through. It’s dark, you’re soggy and there’s not much glamour involved. But I do enjoy it as a slightly quieter time where I have more focus to nurture and guide the team. It’s important to me that they have the opportunity to learn and get the most out of this unique experience.
DO YOU HAVE A HARVEST MANTRA?
In my first ever job I got told “if you have time to lean you have time to clean” and I’ve carried that around with me ever since. There’s always something interesting to be doing at harvest and it’s important to get stuck in.
TOP TIP TO YOUR TEAM
Bring spare socks – it will get damp and soggy and you’ll regret it if you don’t.
HARVEST DREAM VERSUS REALITY…
It takes a particular type of person who doesn’t mind getting wet, cold and dirty. You have to have vision. The grapes don’t just magically turn in to wine – there’s a lot of hard work and dedication involved. But harvest is such an essential part in the winemaking process – arguably the most important. The choices you make now have the potential to influence the characteristics and qualities in the future and it’s so rewarding to play a part in that.
DAY-SHIFT SUPERVISOR (WINERY)
YOUR FAVOURITE PART IS…
Things get exciting when we start to receive the grapes. I love taking a first look, checking them over and seeing the quality. But I think the real thrill begins when the grapes are pressed and it turns to juice. That’s when I start to truly see it as wine.
AND THE WORST PART…
Cleaning! There are so many grape skins and stalks…it’s a messy business.
DOES TEAM WORK REALLY MAKE THE DREAM WORK?
It’s essential to operate as a team, otherwise it just wouldn’t work. But it’s not just about necessity…we all thrive on helping each other out and working collaboratively. We share the highs and lows together.
WHAT’S YOUR HARVEST MOTTO?
Speed is key – it’s important not to hold things up. If I have a spare moment, then it’s time to help someone else out. It happens in a flash and there’s no time to rest.
WHAT’S THE CHALLENGE?
Keeping an eye on all of the different jobs and team members. Harvest is full of fast-paced, energetic teamwork and it’s all hands to the deck. I’m focused on maintaining a slick, seamless and quality-driven process whilst also ensuring everyone is supported and happy. There’s a lot at stake and that’s both exciting and stressful.
THE HARVEST DREAM VERSUS REALITY…
It’s definitely not romantic in the traditional sense. You’re cold and drenched, it’s full of hard work, heavy lifting and the grapes keep on coming…but it’s so worth it. Nothing beats the sense of pride knowing that you’ve been a part of it all.
DESCRIBE HARVEST IN THREE WORDS
Fun, organised chaos.
We are particularly proud that 2021 marks the first harvest since both our vineyard and winery have been awarded Wine GB’s Sustainable Wines of Great Britain trademark. This accreditation recognises Ridgeview’s commitment to environmental sustainability through reducing our carbon footprint, promoting biodiversity and using minimal intervention methods in our viticulture and winemaking. We believe that ‘Life is for Celebrating’…and that includes animal and plant life too!