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Harvest is the most exhilarating time to be in a vineyard. For producers it’s all-action and breakneck-busy. Dates must be calculated, equipment prepared, timings coordinated and workforces galvanised to bring the year’s precious grapes into the winery at the peak point of ripeness.
For visitors, it’s the time to see this abundance of activity up close – and increasingly take part yourself. With every passing year more and more English wineries are offering dedicated harvest experiences – where you can take part in the picking, enjoy a sense of camaraderie and some wonderful lunches and wine. Some positions are paid in sterling, some in food and drink, but all are rewarding.
Most vineyards in the Sussex Winelands are expecting to harvest their grapes throughout October this year, but the dates will vary from place to place depending on the subtleties of the terroir, landscape and climate so do check in with the individual vineyard for details.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be updating this page with Sussex vineyards looking for pickers.
On Saturday 7th October, Roebuck Estates are offering the chance to enjoy an action-packed afternoon of hand-harvesting grapes with the vineyard team at the beautiful Roebuck vineyard, followed by a well-deserved complimentary glass of vintage sparkling wine. The experience is free to attend but registration is required, so book your place and find more details via Roebuck’s website.
Artelium Estate near Ditchling is inviting volunteers to join them for harvest experience day on 22nd October to help bring in the 2023 vintage. Timings are approximately 8.30am-4pm including a welcome hot drink and pastries, coffee & cake during the morning, followed by a hearty post-harvesting supper and glass (or two) of sparkling! Alternatively, for a more “behind the scenes” harvest, Artelium are also asking for a small number of pickers to help alongside their own team at both Streat, East Sussex and the West Sussex site in Madehurst. Visit the website for more details and to sign up!
Oastbrook Estate are looking for volunteers to join them for a whole day grape-picking experience this harvest. Volunteers will be rewarded with lunch in the winery. Date currently available are 8th and 10th of October, though this may change according to the weather so please check Oastbrook’s website for latest updates.
After an amazing time was had by all last year, Wiston Estate is once again running Volunteer Picking Days for harvest 2023. Pickers will enjoy delicious sweet treats, teas and coffees and a hearty lunch from the Chalk Team to stay fuelled up throughout the day. And of course you’ll be finishing off with a glass or two of Wiston to celebrate the day’s haul, as well as taking home a bottle of Wiston’s wine and being invited back to enjoy a couple of glasses on the house in Chalk Restaurant. Find out more.
Tinwood’s Harvest Experience offers a great balance of hard work and rewarding treats. The day starts with a coffee-and-cakes welcome from the owners and a quick lesson on the fine art of harvesting grapes for quality winemaking. After that, it’s out into the vineyard for a couple of hours of picking with the team, ending with a hard-earned three-course harvest lunch served with complimentary Tinwood wines. This year’s harvest experience days at Tinwood are running on the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th of October – book your place via their website.
Help Tillingham bring in the 2023 harvest on a special volunteer picking day. Dates have just been announced – beginning on 20 September. The picking day includes breakfast in the barn, and a pizza lunch. Keep your eyes on Tillingham’s Instagram as more dates are announced.
The mighty Rathfinny is starting to assemble their harvest crew for this year’s picking season – and they’re looking for people local to Alfriston in East Sussex who can commit to at least three weeks of paid work with a preliminary start date of 9 October. In addition to the picking, there are a range of harvest experiences on offer at Rathfinny this autumn, including harvest feasting, dosage tating and cosy B&B packages. Read more.
The following Sussex vineyards also typically run volunteer or paid grape-picking days duirng harvest. More picking experiences will be added to this page as we get them – or do check out individual vineyards for all their latest news.
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