On Saturday, I spent the day with the sun on my back, picking grapes amongst the vines on a south facing hillside in…. Yorkshire! I really could have been anywhere in Europe harvesting the Ortega & Solaris grapes, well other than I had wellies on as it had been very wet the day before and the dew and damp hung heavy on the grass and the grapes!
The day started with a 2 hour drive over to East Yorkshire, we were met with a brew and a chat about the days harvest and introduced to an eclectic mix of fellow volunteers, we swiftly moved on to the first pick a mile down the road at another vineyard aptly named “Paradise” and after a brief lesson with the secateurs we were left to fill the boxes with fantastic sweet, plump Solaris grapes. To grow grapes this far North, (Ryedale Vineyard is the most northerly vineyard in England) does not require any special vines or land other than a disease resistant variety and a south facing slope with good drainage, which is the same the World over.
After a only an hour & a half, it was brew time with homemade cakes, a quick count of how we were doing so as to calculate when lunch would be served back at the lovely farmhouse. We finished the patch of Solaris at Paradise Farm and headed back for a hearty lunch of stew, mash, roast potatoes, cabbage and peas then apple crumble & custard. Apples for the pud from the abundant trees around the vines. Of course the meal was washed down with a glass of dry rose English Wine (should that be Yorkshire Wine?).
Ryedale Vineyard offer the opportunity to volunteer for the grape harvest throughout October with the promise of plenty of Tea & Cakes and a good lunch with wine and the wonderful experience of the harvest. A once in a lifetime experience, get in touch and go along and help, they do B&B so you can make a weekend of it. Thanks to Slow Food North Yorkshire for the heads up about volunteering for grape picking.
You can listen to this episode of our podcast discussing vines, grapes & making English wine with Vineyard owner Stuart Smith & Wine Consultant Simon Day on iTunes here or on the FreshExtra website here
Ryedale Vineyard, Farfield Farm, Westow, York, Y060 7LS Tel 01653 658507