September: Vineyard news

August 26 2016

Late summer is the first time in the year when we can see what sort of harvest we can expect.

Late summer is the first time in the year when we can see what sort of harvest we can expect. The flowers that successfully set into fruit in June and July have begun to swell and are currently about the size of a pea. The little Pinot noir and Seyval blanc grapes are hard and green at the moment but should swell and ripen rapidly over the coming weeks ready for harvest at the end of September. We are still seeing the impact of the one night of frost we had way back in April as fewer grape bunches have been produced, but we’re still hopeful for a good harvest. As I’ve said before, it’s generally easy to grow grapes in the UK but it’s these freak little weather events that cause the most disruption for UK growers.

Soon, I’ll be putting out my bird nets to protect the ripening grapes from starlings, pheasants and any other passing creature that might fancy a nibble and then it’ll all be over for another year!

Now the vines are reaching their fullest phase of growth the vineyard looks hugely different from in the openness of winter and spring. The long, hedge-like rows of vines need to be trimmed to kept tidy, so I have to get my trusty shears out. 

Large vineyards will have a machine for doing this but actually it only takes 10 minutes to walk along a row of 60 or so plants and trim the side shoots and soft growing tips off. Once the growing tip of a stem has been removed, the vine attempts to throw out more side shoots but also puts more effort into fruit ripening.  It looks really good when it’s done and is very satisfying to look back at when complete!

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