September 2017: Vineyard News

August 24 2017

August took on a distinctly autumnal tone, which I think we’re all hoping will be replaced by a nice hot Indian summer like the one we experienced in 2016. As it happens, most of this summer has been pretty dry and warm so the grapes are actually on schedule to be harvested early despite the cool August we’ve had.

August took on a distinctly autumnal tone, which I think we’re all hoping will be replaced by a nice hot Indian summer like the one we experienced in 2016. As it happens, most of this summer has been pretty dry and warm so the grapes are actually on schedule to be harvested early despite the cool August we’ve had. 

As I write this in mid August, our Pinot noir grapes have just started to turn red which means they’ve stopped swelling and turned their energy toward ripening instead. This colour change is called veraison and usually means that the grapes will be harvested in around six weeks’ time. This colour change is my cue for harvest but also to get the nets out and start protecting the grapes from the marauding starlings, pheasants and anything else that wants to get its little teeth or beak into them. 

I’m also on the look out for wasps that can descend on the vineyard en masse at this time of year as they experience a phenomenon called colony collapse. As we move towards autumn, wasp social structure changes and so too do their feeding habits. It’s a normal process but means that wasps tend to stop hunting for insects and instead start lolling around in an almost drunken state looking for anything sweet to eat instead. Colony collapse tends to coincide with our grapes ripening (hurrah) but some years we don’t see them at all. Fingers crossed they’ll keep away.

Aside from worrying about potential disasters, I’m excited because we look like we’re on for a big Seyval blanc harvest. I would never have expected this when I surveyed my frost damaged vineyard back on that cold morning in April, but both the Seyval blanc and Pinot noir have produced fairly decent crops which I am very much looking forward to getting into the winery tanks! My previous experience with frost was that any secondary growth after frost damage produced little to no fruit, but this year I have been happily proved wrong. In a few weeks I’ll visit our other growing site at Secret Valley Glamping near Bridgwater to see how their crops are progressing as well.

On the wine front, our Pinot rosé is now being sold by the glass in the Watershed bar and cinema in the centre of Bristol, and our sparkling wine is one step closer to completion as it makes its way down to the acclaimed sparkling winemakers at Furleigh Estate in Dorset. Once here, it will undergo its secondary fermentation before being finished off ready for sale in around 12 months’ time. My usual winemaker doesn’t have the equipment needed for these final sparkling winemaking stages, hence the change of home mid-way through production. It’ll be worth the wait I’m sure!

 

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