March 2017: Vineyard News

February 24 2017

Our little island can experience huge variation in weather and temperature and this is most apparent during February, March and April. Warm spring or even summer-like days can be replaced by freezing conditions within the space of a few hours.

Our little island can experience huge variation in weather and temperature and this is most apparent during February, March and April. Warm spring or even summer-like days can be replaced by freezing conditions within the space of a few hours. This fluctuation in British weather never ceases to amaze me. So far we’ve not had many of those spring-like days but I’m sure they’re lurking just around the corner. 

In the vineyard the only signs of spring we have seen are the primroses under the hedgerows and the willow windbreak coming into leaf. Willow is something I have only become familiar with over the last 3 years as I started using it to create a windbreak around the vineyard to protect the vines from southwesterly winds during the summer and autumn months. It’s amazing stuff! We dug long ditches down two sides of the vineyard to maximize drainage and planted willow along the high banks created. I say ‘planted’ but actually all you need to do to plant willow is push a short length of it into the ground at the right time of year and off it goes! Within a few years you have a beautiful 20-foot high plant that can also be harvested as winter fuel. Not one for a back garden maybe as it does grow quite vigorously.

On the wine front, I am getting very excited about the 500 bottles of sparkling wine we have in production. There are several processes involved with sparkling wine making and my winemaker doesn’t have all the equipment needed for the final stage. Because of this I’ll be transporting my bottles from their current winery in the Mendips to another winery in Dorset this August where they’ll sit for a while before being finished off.  

This method of sparkling wine production is called the “traditional method” and is the same as that used in Champagne production. The length of time the wine sits in the bottle before undergoing the final stages of riddling and disgorging can be anything from nine months to several years and helps determine the flavour and characteristics of the final product. If the wine is left for a shorter period you can’t put “traditional method” on the label. Generally, the longer the wine is left, the more yeasty the flavour. I have time to think about the style of wine I want to create but am not sure I have the patience to wait several years!

 

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