Linda Fawke offers her travel tip
I always wanted to take part in a grape harvest. But a journey to Bordeaux, Burgundy or even the Loire is too far. I found a solution recently – we went to Gawcott in Buckinghamshire, to the relatively new High Hedges vineyard and offered our services. Tim and Stephanie Chafor, the owners, welcomed us and a handful of other volunteers. They showed us which grapes to cut and which to leave and we chatted as we worked our way along the rows of vines. We were harvesting Chardonnay, one of several grape varieties they grow. Lunch and refreshments were thrown in, plus a bottle of wine from last year’s vintage to take home. But best was the convivial atmosphere and being able to contribute to the making of a local wine. Chafor wines are doing well and will soon be sold in some Waitrose stores. While not cheap, I now understand what we have to pay for. Hand-picking is hard on the back and slower than mechanised harvesting, and the grapes were pressed on site the same evening.