Harvest Report 2017: The
Full Story

Since planting in 2008, our yields and fruit quality have continued to rise, even with hares and pheasants enjoying the odd nibble! The trend continued in 2017 and we couldn’t have hoped for a better harvest. Many elements contribute to annual fruit quality and this year, thanks to dry and gentle conditions during budburst and flowering (the pollination of the flowers dictates amount of fruit) we had an excellent start. Good summer temperatures and strong sunshine contributed to help the grapes ripen beautifully, with high sugars and low acids meaning we needed to do very little in the winery other than let the grapes speak for themselves.

Aided by ginger nuts and tea strong enough to stand a spoon in, Vineyard Manager Marcus and assistant Adam worked incredibly hard alongside family, friends and professional pickers to ensure that only the best fruit was brought in. A bumper crop meant some very late nights and early starts for us all but once the fruit was safely pressed, tanked and fermenting, the long hours were soon forgotten.

Our Ortega was monitored closely for botrytis which can be problematic with this variety. Whilst it can help produce some of the world’s best sweet wines, it can also ruin a crop in no time! Each day we carefully removed any botrytised bunches until the grapes were ripe and ready for the press. The resulting wines will retain the great tropical flavours of Ortega alongside a good blend of English aromas; pear, honeysuckle and elderflower.

We'll be ageing some of the Ortega in our terracotta Westwell amphora again this year. These vessels have been used to store wine for thousands of years and the influence they have on the developing wine works beautifully with a grape such as Ortega - adding complexity and honeyed notes to the wine. We’ve fermented the Ortega without pressing the grapes, in the same way that we would when making a red wine. Using this skin contact method will help the wine gain a depth of flavour, tannins and structure which will continue to develop in the amphora over the coming months.

Our three sparkling wine varieties all reached perfect ripeness at different times throughout October. The Pinot Meunier was first to be picked with very soft acids and good flavour; the Chardonnay taking a further three weeks to hit its peak. The Pinot Noir ripened steadily, aided by leaf stripping to remove some of the growth which can shade the fruit. The must has already developed some great character - we’re even making a red wine with some of our Burgundy clone which is showing classic flavours of strawberry, redcurrant and black pepper. We’re very excited about this even though we’ll probably produce only a few hundred bottles.

The sparkling wine varieties were gently whole-bunch pressed with only the first 48% destined for our finest sparkling cuvées. These will be bottled in the spring and left to develop quietly for several years. Whilst we really want to share their flavours with you as soon as possible, we know patience is the key to making excellent wines!

Next year we look forward to welcoming visitors to the vineyard for tours and tastings.

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