West Norfolk wine harvest begins at Burnham Market
This week, Cobble Hill pressed its first grapes at a brand new £250,000 winery on the family farm, just outside Burnham Market.
The first grapes to be picked were the Bacchus variety which were loaded onto an ancient 1960’s tractor, the only one which will fit between the rows of vines and then transported to the winery to be pressed.
More than 1,000 litres of grape juice have been placed into the shiny new fermentation tanks each day this week.
The Cobble Hill Bacchus wine was awarded the silver medal at the Wines of Great Britain Awards and vineyard owner Robert Perowne is hoping for another quality vintage this year.
Robert Perowne said: “I am so proud of our team and our wine, and to see the new winery operating for the first time is just wonderful.
"I am grateful to DEFRA who have awarded us a 40 per cent grant towards the cost of the new winery, which we hope will be great for tourism and employment in the local area.
"We are very excited to be able to produce our wine completely in house, and wish to thank our local delis, suppliers and customers who have been so supportive of us.
"Here’s hoping that 2021 will produce another Award Winning vintage!”
Cobble Hill is a nine-acre vineyard on an ancient south facing glacial moraine.
Growing Bacchus, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties, first planted in 2016, the first wine produced in 2018.
Robert Perowne’s family have farmed this land for generations and has diversified into wine, as well as producing his famous onions and other arable crops.
The 2020 harvest produced 15,000 bottles and the winery are hoping for similar this year.
The weather has been challenging this year, with the harvest taking place a few weeks later than usual, however first analysis of the press shows great sugar and acidity levels, promising a super vintage.
The current coronavirus pandemic has also impacted the availability of labour, but a wonderful team effort within the local community has ensured that the harvest is going ahead at a great pace.
Robert Perowne said: “Labour has been a problem this year, but we have been blessed by the support of the local community, friends and family to get the harvest started.
"We hope to have an extra team of 15 harvesters joining us next week as we move to harvest the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, we just need a few more days of Norfolk sunshine!”
Following the harvest at Cobble Hill, the grapes are immediately taken to the new winery where they are crushed and de-stemmed.
They are then pumped into the state of the art press for almost three hours to extract the juice.
The juice is them pumped to fermentation tanks where it will remain until next spring before being bottled for sale.