Sunny spring, wet August and Indian summer combine to result in an early grape harvest.

english vineyards

Inews reports that an early spring heatwave, refreshing August rain and a mini heat wave this month had led to a vintage year for England’s wine producers who believe they will produce bottles to rival anywhere in the world.

Vineyard across the south of England are embarking on early harvest following the ideal weather conditions, which are set to delight connoisseurs with some top tipples making their way to stores over the next couple of years.

The Three Choirs Vineyard in Newent, Gloucestershire has begun its harvest a few weeks earlier than in other years after the recent warm sunny weather provides the perfect picking conditions for this year’s grapes.

With around 160 tonnes of grapes to pick across the 78-acre vineyard has started bringing in this year’s crop under strict Covid-safe conditions. The previous 28 harvests have involved 14 pickers, but this year the team of just seven from two local families will take an estimated seven weeks to complete the task.

Thomas Shaw, managing director of Three Choirs, said “It’s been a good year and the quality of the fruit is very, very good. We’re not looking for a bumper crop as it is never quality and quality is far more important than quantity”.

The winemaker grows 14 different grape varieties and produces 250,000 bottles of wine a year.

Meanwhile, over at Chapel Down in Tenterden, Kent, the harvest at England’s largest winemaker began yesterday.

Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down says: “In England, we always get the right weather for growing grapes, we just don’t always get it in the right order. In 2020, we’ve had it in the right order again.”

At the 265-acre Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey the harvest began last week, and the vineyard expects to yield around half a million bottles of red, wine, dessert and sparkling wines this year.

Jeannette Simpson, chief operating officer at Denbies, said she was also confident of a vintage year, adding the business was clawing back lockdown losses as people clamour to get outside and opt for staycations.

“We had to close out tours and 17-bed hotel in lockdown, but since we reopened, we’ve be incredibly busy,” she said. “Like everyone else we had to adapt our sales processes and we introduced click and collect, which went really well.”

As for English wine’s standing around the world Ms Simpson believe it’s never been higher. “English wins are winning awards all over the world,” she said. “When it comes to English sparkling wines this country is producing a drink at least equal to, if not better, than Champagne.”

How the weather made 2020 a vintage year

Alex Mills, winemaker and vineyard manager at Pebblebed in Clyst-St-George in East Devon, is looking to launch his harvest across next week. From just 25 acres he expects to produce around 30,000 bottles ready to tingle the taste-buds in a year to 18 months’ time.

Mr Mills explained the weather could not have been more ideal this year. He said: “We were helped by the early spring and late summer sunshine. In August I was delighted to see the rain. It was very welcome as it plumped up the fruit. Then we’ve had the recent sunshine for the final push, to get the sugar levels up.

We’re expecting a really high-quality crop.” He added that despite a touch of frost in late May the crop flourished, which is another indication the grapes are of world class quality.

(Story source: Inews)

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