Community rallies together to help vineyard owner during coronavirus lockdown

The closure of restaurants, bars and venues during the coronavirus lockdown has had a significant hit on the alcohol production industry here in the UK.

On top of that wine makers have lost business from tasting and touring and now as they head into harvest season many of them are struggling to find staff to help pick the grapes.

Ordinarily most of these plants would be tended by a team of Romanian workers but unable to make it this year

However vineyard owner Barbara Laithwaite appealed for help and dozens of volunteers responded.

Barbara Laithwaite said there has been a real mixture of people helping out at the vineyard. Credit: ITV News

Making sparkling wine to rival Champagne needs dedication and is hands-on work and with expert guidance the community have delivered.

Ms Laithwaite told ITV News: "Because we've had more local people coming more often I've been able to raise their skill levels and they're now doing work that normally the contractors would be doing and they've been doing it well.

"We've got elderly people, teenagers, people who are furloughed, you know, just a lovely mix of people," she added.

The pandemic has impacted each volunteer differently, Rachel had just moved to the area when coronavirus lockdown hit.

Rachel had just moved to the area when coronavirus lockdown hit. Credit: ITV News

Rachel Wood said: "Even without lockdown it would be a nice way to sort of get to know people and become part of a community but with the lockdown it's a little more, it feels invaluable."

Freelance hairdresser Wendy Boyes, who is at the vineyard with her husband, has told ITV News the vines are a welcome escape as she has no idea when business will begin again.

"It's been absolutely essential and one of the positives that we've had is being able to be able to exercise and be outside," Ms Boyes said.

The fruits of their labour will be harvested towards the end of October and as to whether the'll uncork a great vintage wine won't be known until 2024.

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