AN APPEAL has gone out for volunteers to help it handpick what owners Geoff and June Ferguson say will be a bumper crop of grapes at the Kerry Vale Vineyard , one mile south of Churchstoke.

The fine weather has led to good growing conditions for British Vineyards and the eight-year-old vineyard is optimistic about its harvest and expects to pull about 10 tons of grapes from their 6,000 vines.

“It's an incredibly busy but exciting time at Kerry Vale at the moment. Due to the variation in the seasons, harvest time varies from year to year, this year we are looking for volunteers to help us with harvesting on September 17 and 18. We will pick again on September 24 and 25 as the different varieties ripen,” said owner Geoff.

Kerry Vale Vineyard has three grape varieties; Rondo, Phoenix and Solaris. Each grape varieties ripens at different times which means the workload can be spread over a number of days/weeks.

At this time of year Geoff continuously monitors the sugar/acidity levels in the grapes to ensure they are picked at just the right time. The most important criterion determining the time for harvesting is the acid level in the grapes. Too high and the wine is sharp to the taste, too low and it is flat and uninteresting. Kerry Vale Vineyard likes the sugar content to be as high as possible – which requires a good amount of sun - sometimes difficult to attain in our unpredictable English climate.

Kerry Vale Vineyard is a small family run vineyard, so volunteers are essential at this time of year to bring in the vintage. The work is hard but satisfying and for those who enjoy the outdoors.

June Furguson says: “There’s nothing nicer than working on the vineyard on a sunny day”. If you have an interest in wine and wine making, what better way to understand how the process begins than on the vineyard where the grapes are grown”.

Volunteers will hand pick the grapes, cut them off the vines in whole bunches, then they will be put in trays which will be transported to the winery. Volunteer pickers will be asked to start on the vineyards from 8am. They will pick until 10.30 when coffee and biscuits/cake is served to provide energy to keep the pickers going until 1pm when they will be rewarded for their efforts with a hearty lunch and a glass of award winning wine. Those enthusiastic volunteers who wish to pick for the remainder of the day are welcome to do so and will have tea and cake at 4pm.

If you’d like to get involved call 01588 620627 or email You can also check out the vineyards facebook page for up to date information on how the grapes are doing!