Harvest Report 2023

In summary, 2023 was a very good harvest for us.   We picked a significant volume, with yields on a par with 2018 and well above our average together with excellent ripeness levels and low disease pressure.    All of this comes down to the weather patterns for the growing season and timely management of the vineyard!  One of the benefits of growing all our own fruit and making all our own wine means we are in control of all variables and can pick at the optimum time for the fruit which in this season was critical to success.

Weatherwise, things started well, with a late Spring and cool weather leading to relatively late bud burst.  Early May remained blissfully free of cold frosty nights and this gave way to a long warm dry June with perfect conditions for flowering and fruit set which literally ‘sets’ the vines up with the potential large bunches of grapes that lead to a big harvest.

Unfortunately, we then we hit one of the wettest July and Augusts on record –  challenging conditions in which to keep the vines free of mildew diseases and rot.     Conditions demanded comprehensive canopy management work and a timely and well executed spray programme.    A brief heat wave in early September and then at the start of October helped to hasten the ripening just in time.   In fact, the intensity and length of the wave nearly led to over-ripening in some varietals – especially for sparkling wine.   With reports coming in of rapidly dropping acid levels vineyards had to be able to pick quickly.

We picked all our Bacchus in September (starting on 25th) to preserve the acid levels and luckily got all our Pinot Noir in before acids dropped too far and before another threat hit which was widely reported this year.   SWD or Spotted Wing Drosophila (a type of moth) is a relatively new pest to the UK, first reported as a problem amongst cherry farmers, but also showing a liking for black skinned grapes.   Not wanting to spray insecticides, we managed to largely avoid it by picking our Pinots early.  Unfortunately, our Dornfelder, which we’d left to hang longer with an eye on red wine making, did suffer.    If (when?) SWD becomes more prevalent in the UK we’ll have to think carefully between how long we leave our grapes for potential red wine making or hope to find effective biological controls.

Harvest finished with the last of our Chardonnay being picked on 17th October.

With good ripeness levels across all varieties the potential is there for us to produce excellent still and sparkling wines this year.    The acidity on the Chardonnay was near perfect for sparkling wine making at just over 11g/L meaning that MLF may not be required or desirable.     The early indications on our base wines in tank is that they are showing great depth, freshness and complexity which all bode well for some exciting wines coming out of the 2023 vintage.  Watch this space!

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