“It’s the culmination of the year’s work,” says Dan Grainger, manager at The Nest, adding that the whole team across the vineyards and in the winery are “buzzing with excitement” about the quality of the fruit in 2022. “The whole place is on its toes, geared up for action and for that exact moment when Jon [Pollard, Chief Vineyard Manager] gives the nod to begin this year’s harvest.”
As with all vintage wines, no two years, no two harvests are the same. Kent’s hot summer of 2022 is expected to yield grapes of extraordinary ripeness and depth of flavour. “That’s something we’ll taste immediately from the fruit on the vines and then direct from the juice in that first pressing of the cuvée,” Dan explains.
Depending on weather and the condition of the fruit, the team is eyeing up the second or third week of September for picking to begin, and it’s during the ensuing three weeks or so that the vineyard team swells by around a hundred skilled pickers.
This stretch is also when we host special extended Discovery and Estate Tours – a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the activities and excitement of harvest time. “It’s a chance for people to observe the peak of the yearly agricultural cycle – and I always like to stress that word. It’s sometimes easy to forget that the elegant sparkling wine in your glass starts life on a farm – it’s an integral part of the rural economy.”
Part of the hosted tour experience at harvest time includes tasting grapes straight from the vine and noting the differences in ripeness at different altitudes. “The slopes of our Boot Hill and Commanders vineyards in Kent allow visitors to see just how differently grapes ripen at the top and bottom of a row of vines – you can really understand the characteristics of the terroir when you can both see and taste those differences,” says Dan.
There’s also an opportunity to get up close to the action (again, depending on which vineyards the picking is taking place that day), observing the pickers at work and tasting all three of the grape varieties that have been so meticulously tended throughout the year: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. And because grapes are transported straight from the vineyard directly to the presses, there’s also the possibility to be among the first to taste the freshly pressed juice at the very start of the winemaking process.
To complete the experience, seasonal lunch dishes that celebrate the produce of Kent accompany a tutored tasting of Gusbourne sparkling and still wines – all at The Nest, overlooking our beautiful vineyards, with views over Romney Marsh and toward the south coast.
The 2022 Gusbourne vintage is expected to be exceptional. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this exciting harvest in action!
Harvest Discovery and Estate Tours are available to book now through our booking calendar. Full harvest tour experience subject to availability according to the conditions of the day.
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