Tuesday, 19 March 2019

For only the second time ever we needed all 12 of our stillages, the collapsible cages used to transport wines in bottle. We had 6,500 bottles to fetch back from Steve Brooksbank's winery near Shepton Mallet. Over half, unusually, were from the often-shy-cropping Kernling vines. All our vines are now over 30 years old and there are quite a few gaps, so, let’s hear it for the vines! Didn’t they do well? 

Mostly there were two pickable bunches per cane, as usual, so the big 2018 yield was all about the size of the bunches. And the ripest we’ve ever had the Kernling too. These yields are not big in the global scheme of things, not enough to compromise  the wine quality, in fact the big-yielding years in these latitudes are usually the best vintages too.

Our new trailer could take up all the stillages to the winery in one go, as three stacks of four. Previously we’veneeded two journeys for that many. It has ramps so we were able to load the stacks using the tractor’s back forks. A bit scary going backwards up ramps with a laden tractor the first time, but it all went smoothly. A big improvement over lifting each one into our horse box or small trailer by hand as we’ve done up to now. Each stillage empty is quite a heavy lift for Iain and me. 

Up at the winery Steve lifted them off quickly with his forklift and they took their place lined up with everyone else’s - an impressive array of stillages and plastic Euro-bins. You can only see about a third  of them in the photo below

Our 2018s and the 2017 barrel matured were bottled last Wednesday. This year the barrel matured is in dark green Bordeaux bottles so I’ll need to have a re-think on the label. Still all closed with corks - the best Steve can get. We do like proper corks, and with these cork taint is very rare.

The stillages came home full yesterday, as usual in a pallet truck with a tail lift. Took about an hour for the driver to unload the pallets on the tail-lift one by one and for Iain and me to trolley them up the slight slope, that normally you wouldn’t notice, into our long barn, where they’re safe under cover till we can stack them in the 17C, stone-built, cobble-floored, Iain-insulated stable that is our wine store.

Frustratingly, because I like to get them stacked safely in the dark as quickly as poss, I then managed to fall off our loft ladder, so I'm hors de combat for a few days with 4 head stitches and miscellaneous bruising. Luckily no permanent damage, back to normal in a few days. 

Its sunny outside for the first time for it seems weeks. Grrrrr! So I’m making up for the lost stacking time by writing this, then some quiet knitting for the grand-twins. I love knitting for the grandchildren, just preferably not on sunny, spring-like afternoons with the wine-stacking and quite a bit of vine-pruning still waiting!! And I’m not supposed to drink wine for a week so Icant even take part in our traditional tasting-the-new-wines ritual. Later!