We spoke to some of our award winning winemakers of English sparkling wine to see what the harvest has been like for them this year.
Sam Lindo, winemaker at Camel Valley in Cornwall said they finished the harvest in record time. In fact, they finished before they normally start.
“The quality was amazing, but the quantity was slightly down on the usual. Bunch weights were lower than predicted and I think this is why we saw very fast ripening towards the end. What does this all mean? Unfortunately for Glass of Bubbly, we will make a larger percentage of still wine than we would normally. This maintains the quality of the sparkling wine keeping the nice acidity we expect.”
Bolney Wine Estate, led by head winemaker, Sam Linter, said the perfect weather over lockdown helped to produce a beautifully ripe crop of grapes. Which has led them to pick in excess of 235 tonnes of grapes which will fill approximately 190,000 bottles.
“Lockdown has been challenging but the weather has been amazing. Harvest came in earlier than ever before, starting on 14th September and finishing on the 7th October. The future of English Wine continues to be very promising.”
After successful trials last year they used state-of-the-art harvest machine for the first time (not commonly used in England) as well as handpicking this harvest. The three sparkling wine varieties (Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) were picked by hand.
Jonica Fox from Fox & Fox said September still surprised them with a last gasp of summer as the heat climbed substantially for 10 days mid-month. The rain held off until the predicted harvest week (October) so they shifted back a week to start on 6th October, later than last year’s 30th September start.
“The long dry periods and intermittent cold nights kept the vines in a start-stop-start pattern of confusion but by September (the start of ripening /veraison) we could see smaller bunches than the last two years start to ripen, slowly revealing their character. And what character!
It’s been a smaller crop than usual, but the flavours are rich, immense, layered, intense. Exciting. Sugars were optimal. Acids were spot on too. It is once-in-a-decade fruit, rewarding a growing-year that stands out in so many ways.”
Augusta Raimes from Raimes said “We have had slightly smaller bunches this year – small but mighty, the benefit has been exceptional natural sugars and grapes packed with flavour. We think there are very exciting wines ahead for vintage 2020.”