Sam Barnes went to the SITEVI show in France two years ago with a very specific aim – to visit every machine harvesting stand and ask about potentially operating such a machine in Britain.
“Some people were enthusiastic, some were indifferent – and some just laughed because they didn’t believe that English people even made wine,” recalls viticultural contractor Sam.
Undeterred, he spent three weeks earlier this year on a “self-funded study tour”, working with a contractor in New Zealand who runs 12 mechanical harvesters, getting a first-hand insight in to the process. “I made sure I got on every bit of kit they had and did every single harvest-related job,” he explains.
Further inspired, he took the plunge this autumn, bringing a Pellenc 890 to this country – marking a big step for his own Kent-based business, SJ Barnes Ltd, and for the whole sector.
“I originally set up a contracting service because I spotted a gap in the market to do everything from alleyway establishment and drilling to spraying and fertilising, but my ambition was always to get a harvester,” he says. “No one has ever offered contract harvesting in this country. It’s taken me three years to get to this point.”
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