Three, maybe four, years ago I was out hacking with my dear friend Nicola – I was putting the newest edition to her family, a 13.2hh Dartmoor called Teddy, through his paces before the eldest daughter took him out. That was the first time I spied the vines, peaking through the breaks in the hedge. Grapes? In England? Surely not…it can’t be the right climate for those kinds of shenanigans!?
I am in no way, shape or form a wine buff but I do thoroughly enjoy a glass of bubbles from time to time. So I approached Augusta (Gussie) Raimes a few months back to ask if I may do a review on the final product when released, from an ‘I like fizz’ perspective not a ‘the bouquet is robust with burst of summer notes’ perspective!
Gussie very kindly agreed to the review and also invited me to see the picking process in action.
Today I had the absolute joy of being on the other side of the hedge…
Beautiful vines of Chardonnay grapes set over four acres, notice how long their stalks are in comparison to what is normally seen – they are longer to keep the ground frost at bay. The site I visited is purely Chardonnay vines but the second, seven acre site has a mixture of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
The vast canopy is required to ensure the sometimes fleeting sunlight is taken full advantage of!
Plump, juicy and (having tasted them myself) sweet Chardonnay grapes – absolutely gorgeous!
Gussie very kindly educated me as to what one looks for when picking – the speckling and yellowing, almost dappling, of the grapes you see above means it is perfect for picking!
The grapes growing on the not-so-sunny side of the vines have a leaf thinning from time to time to ensure they get as much sun as possible
Fifteen pickers were on site today, filling crate after crate of these bunched green jewels! Once the crates are filled they are wrapped and taken to the Hattingley Valley Winery, Alresford where they are pressed…on the same day!
From pressing they move on into stainless steel tanks where fermentation takes place. Nine months later the wine is tasted and the art of flavour blending is undertaken, once happy with the flavour the wine is bottled and left to carry on fermentating for around three years…yikes!
A labour of love!
I could have spent all day ‘floating’ around the Raimes’ vineyard, or more accurately being driven around in the Kubota, what a beautiful and relaxing way to spend time! Free-range children and dogs scampering here, there and everywhere. It’s a true family effort, three generations hard at work for one truly rewarding goal!
“It’s a diversification but we’ve all got swept up in it”
A few words from Gussie: “Sometimes it’s stressful, mostly a pleasure actually…we have all loved hand growing a crop because the farm, which is in our blood, in our soul, is something we can all do, the kids can do this, it’s all done by hand. We find ourselves pruning, chatting away. We all do what we can, it’s been very bonding”
Please click the link below to visit the Raimes Sparkling website for more information and how to buy! http://raimes.co.uk/ 2013 Blanc de Noirs available now, 2014 Blanc de Noirs and 2014 Classic Reserve available November 2016…
Raimes Sparkling will be releasing their 2013 wines at the Winchester Wine Festival, click the link to be taken to the website for dates and tickets. http://www.thewinefestival.co.uk/
Looking forward to trying the finished article, the grapes from the vines I spied three or four years ago, my undoubted tipple for my Birthday!