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In pictures: charity ride across English wine country

Following the successful completion of The Harvest Tour charity cycling challenge through English wine country, we bring you the pictorial highlights, featuring all the lycra-clad trade participants from this inaugural event.

Day 1: The Harvest Tour started at 8am on 29 September from Plumpton College near Lewes, featuring 25 members of the drinks trade, who rode across the hilly countryside of Surrey, Sussex and Kent over three days.
Basic sustenance for the first 110km included bananas, painkillers and water.
This would be my transport for the next three days, taking me more almost 400km over three days to raise funds for The Drinks Trust.
The first stop was Ridgeview, where comms director Mardi Roberts showed us the latest crop – which is set to break records.
Roberts said it would be Ridgeview’s “biggest harvest ever”, with “the biggest bunch weights we’ve ever seen”.
In particular, Roberts said that, “this is a good year for Pinot, which is looking really good, and Pinot is the most variable grape in this country”.
Dubbed The Harvest Tour, the challenge saw the cyclists pass through some of the UK’s most famous and beautiful vineyards as the producers started to bring in the vintage.
There were early signs of exhaustion as we reached Nyetimber HQ in West Chiltington.
Among the producers we visited on the Harvest Tour was Bolney, where Harvest Tour captain Charles Taverner led the riders in for croissants and coffee.
Among the bottles for sale at Bolney – which is owned by the world’s largest sparkling wine business, Henkell Freixenet – was this pre-mixed Sussex Negroni.
Day 1 finished at the Travelodge in Dorking…
…where our branded Harvest Tour jerseys were waiting for us. The cycling challenge was organised to support the work of The Drinks Trust through its new Cost of Living Crisis Appeal – which aims to raise £230,000 for up to 1,000 members of the industry facing hardship.
We’d covered almost 110km in under 4.5 hours, as shown by the Strava report from buying director at Naked Wines, Matt Smith.
Day 2 started with a basic breakfast.
Then a briefing from team leader, Laura (Lala) Lawson, from Pie Cycling Events, who ran the challenge.
A break-away group then raced to the top of Box Hill. Left to right: Christo Eliott Lockhart, Colin Thorne, Vincenzo Arnese, Matt Smith, Patrick Schmitt, and Jason Steele.
Breakfast at Denbies ensued, where more riders joined the tour, with day 2 of the challenge conducted to celebrate the life of Philip Tuck MW, Hatch Mansfield wine director and Wine Trade Sports Club Board Member, who tragically died last month in a cycling accident in France.
Lunch on day 2 was kindly supplied by the Warde family, owners of Squerryes in Kent
Winery owner Henry Warde described this year’s vintage as “amazing”, calling the yields “unbelievable”, despite “loads of green harvesting”.
Then he served his latest release from the 2019 vintage
…with just the sort of lunch we all craved after around 70km in the saddle
Having taken a wrong turn, the riders managed to cycle through Knepp Castle Estate, a property that was the inspiration for the book Wilding, by Isabella Tree, and a place where the cyclists were given a ticking off for trespassing.
Conceived by The Drinks Trust and The Wine Trade Sports Club Foundation, The Harvest Tour was run in association with VinLog Powered by Kuehne+Nagel – with the logistics provider’s global head, Horst Mueller, taking part.
Tea was then taken at Hush Heath Estate, the source of Balfour Brut.
The spread – and light – was amazing, with carrot cake and caramel shortbread served under an intense afternoon sun at this beautiful property in Kent – a county also known as The Garden of England.
Expert viticulturist Stephen Skelton MW (left) greeted the riders, before leaving in his car. Pictured with Stephen is Harvest Tour participant, Will Mower, from Vine Works.
Day 2 drew to a close in the car park of The Raja of Kent – where we would dine later.
But before we did, Nicola Burston from The Drinks Trust surprised us with a glass of Taittinger – in memory of Phil Tuck MW, who was killed on his bicycle just ahead of his 60th birthday while cycling in Burgundy.
Phil’s son, Felix, cycled with the group – his father was a founder of the Harvest Tour and a passionate cyclist.
The it was time for curry and Champagne before the final stage of the tour.
Day 2, which had finished near Tenterden, had seen us cover more than 140km.
A proper breakfast greeted us ahead of our final day of The Harvest Tour
Day 3 saw us ride at a faster pace, and it wasn’t long before we’d passed by Gusbourne
… and then on to Chapel Down, where we stopped for coffee and flapjacks.
Then a refuel at Brede Village Hall.
Followed by a break at Henners Vineyard near Battle, where another record-breaking crop was almost ready to pick.
Among the riders were Vicenzo Arnese (Raffles) and Christo Eliott Lockhart (Hallgarten)
Along with former WSET CEO, Ian Harris.
Marinel FitzSimons from Spritz Marketing was also on the tour.
As was Stefan Neumann MS
… and Marloes Klijnsmit from Jeroboams – who celebrated her birthday on day 3 of the tour.
Chris Quin from Babich Wines also took part
… as well as team leader Charles Taverner (Maisons Marques et Domaines), pictured here at the end of the tour with Christo Eliott Lockhart.
The last day had seen us head from Tenterden to Plumpton, covering more than 120km.
The entire tour had included almost 3,500 metres of climbing across the counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent.
The challenge took in major ascents such as Pitch, Whitedown and Box Hills, along with Crockham and Ide, and saw the cyclists visit many of the UK’s most famous English wine producers, including Balfour, Bolney, Chapel Down, Gusborne, Ridgeview and Squerryes.

To find out more about The Harvest Tour, and to donate, please click here.

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