In 25 years of growing grapes in this country, this year has been the most challenging.
There were times when we doubted whether we would actually have any ripe fruit - and in fact, if we hadn’t had four weeks of sunshine in September, we would have been harvesting grapes with a potential alcohol of about 6 – 7%, so thank you September!
To understand the reasons for the grape yields achieved in 2021, we have to look back at the very difficult growing conditions during the year. Unseasonably cold weather during April and May resulted in a delayed start to shoot growth in the vineyard of almost four weeks. Frost had been a constant threat during this period, though we were lucky and did not suffer.
After a very late start, things grew rapidly until flowering, which began during the first week of July. Wet weather caused problems with fruitset and many vines had bunches that set a whole two weeks apart. This was most evident in the Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir in our top field.
Veraison (first signs of sugar in the grapes) didn’t start until around the first week of September for the Ortega and the third week of September for the sparkling varieties. This was over two weeks later than normal and given that it’s about four weeks from veraison to harvest, pointed to later than normal picking dates.
Despite all of the challenges we faced this year, we have ended up with some high quality fruit which is now safely fermenting in tank, barrel and amphora.