As soon as we saw the damage and realised we had just a few grapes we could rescue if we did it immediately, we started ringing round our team. Within one hour of seeing the damage we had thirteen pals and all the equipment in the vineyard. What fantastic friends. We hit the remaining grapes like demons possessed in that thundery heat that threatens another storm. To the chorus of endless yells of 'BUCKET' meaning 'this ones full and I need another' - a signal for the porters to hurry over bringing empty buckets and lugging off the full ones, we cleared the surviving grapes in less than three hours.
As you can see, the grapes are not pretty. The hail has smashed them open, but they might just be usable if we're quick.
There's so little that we have decided to use them to make some wine for ourselves, so we take them to our new cuves at my brother, Justin's, house.
The grapes come up to the 750 litre mark on the cuve, but that includes stalks and skins so we'll have precious little when all that gets taken off eventually.
As if the day hasn't already been difficult enough, the cuve containing the grapes decides to lurch into a jaunty angle thanks to a rather-too-soft floor. There's only one thing for it, we have to move all of the grapes into the second tank. And there's only one way to do it - by getting into the tank with the grapes.
Here's Michelle, my sister-in-law, getting down and dirty with the grapes.
Now, you have to understand that we are wine-making virgins and all this has come upon us with a rush. So a hurried phone call to the charming and helpful winemaker, Simon Coulshaw , gave us these instructions.
And those led to a rather inexpert approach to measuring out the stabiliser and yeast.
After the addition of the stabiliser and yeast we got our mate Kate to say a few fine words to encourage the mass to turn to ruby nectar.
Now it's up to Bacchus and a fair wind.