Harvest is when you discover whether your tending of the vines throughout the year has been worthwhile. This year, it was. It has been a spectacular vintage and, as the wines finish fermenting, they are looking very promising. Can’t wait until 2027! It was such a different experience from the cold, damp 2021. We know which year the vines preferred.
THE 2022 GROWING SEASON
Wasn’t it hot? Although we may not have appreciated the long period of hot dry weather, the vines LOVED it. While the rest of the vineyard was gently turning brown and crackly in the heat, the vines themselves remained vibrant green and greedily engorged sunshine.
WITHOUT A DROUGHT?
If you grow vines in the UK then you expect the odd rain-shower. Although our gentle climate keeps the land green and pleasant, it is not so helpful for grape vines. We train vines on trellising that is 2 meters high and try and keep each shoot in a vertical position, with each bunch free from shade so it ripens. We make sure there is good airflow through the canopy. to reduce humidity. The moment there is a drop of rain the grapevine remembers that it is a climber. It shoots out laterals, reaches for the sky and unleashes its inner triffid. We then have to come along and patiently remove all those extra shoots by hand. It’s a lot of work. When there is no rain, the vines don’t sprout so many extra shoots. The job of the vigneron much easier. I won’t pretend there is ever much R&R in a vineyard, but it is easier to keep up with the vines when it is warm and dry.
FUNGUS THE BOGEYMAN
Of course, the thing we dread most is disease. We want our vines to be healthy. Sadly they can get the same mildews (which are a sort of fungus) that your roses get. Both downy and powdery mildew are a pain. However, downy mildew thrives in damp conditions so the arid conditions of 2022 meant there was no downy mildew so there was no need to spray. Result!
By the way, although roses in vineyards are very pretty, they are no longer the early warning system they once were. Historically the roses would get mildew first, which warned the vigneron to protect his vines. These days rose breeders have cleverly bred their roses to be disease resistant. They tend not to get mildew. It is still worth putting roses in the vineyard for their beauty and their fragrance, but not as a botanical canary.
All that warmth and sunshine cosset the little vines. The leaves photosynthesise like mad. Once veraison comes, all that stored sugar is used to ripen the grapes. What delicious ripeness we had this year. Every single clone of every single grape variety was as near perfect as you can get. Even grumpy old winemakers were cheery. It is going to be a great year for English Sparkling wine.
We started picking the pinots from 4 October before moving on to the Chardonnays a week later. As well as some new faces in the winery team, it was great to welcome back Sophie, Will, Ralph and Bronwen as our seasoned harvest hands. A big thank you to all our pickers but particularly Gina, Diandra and Catalin’s team. Of course, simply nothing would be possible without the hard work throughout the year by Super-Marius.
As all the grapes were excellent, we have used skin contact for a vintage rosé (the first since 2018 – which we will release soon). We also have some delightful surprises to come. Here’s a hint: We’re really excited about some of the Chardonnay clones. We can’t wait to reveal them.
Although we will have a bit of a wait. As you know, we tend to keep our wines on the bottle lees for 5 years, so we will not be meeting this year’s wines until 2027. They are so promising though (so far) that it just might be worthwhile making a note in your diary.