Source: Chapel Down

Chapel Down has kicked off its harvest earlier than usual

English winemakers are preparing for another bumper harvest. 

The UK’s homegrown wine brands are preparing to start harvesting grapes after the year’s warm, dry summer – a good omen for the coming vintage.

Nyetimber head winemaker Cherie Spriggs said the UK wine had “benefited from good growing conditions this year, in particular the warm and dry summer weather, which got us off to a great start. We expect 2020 to once again bear fruit of high quality for our wines”.

The brand, she said, was on course to produce around one million bottles for the year. 

“In such an interesting year, we are very grateful for the glorious weather in 2020,” said Ridgeview CEO Tamara Roberts. “We did have some challenges with spring frosts, particularly the last late one in the middle of May, but with our usual care and attention we lit our bougies (frost protection candles) four times which saved the vineyard and no frost damage was recorded.”

Yields were lower than 2018 and 2019, she said, but “a comparatively smaller vintage will be helpful in light of the additional Covid-19  protocols required in the winery during harvest.” 

September’s recent heatwave helped, too. Kentish vineyard Chapel Down’s head of viticulture Richard Lewis added the “latest burst of warm weather, after a long and warm growing season, provides us the perfect conditions to pick our early ripening Bacchus grapes from our finest site, Kit’s Coty Vineyard”.

Ridgeview’s Roberts added: “We are expecting to begin picking at Ridgeview on the 24th of September which will be one of our earliest harvests reflecting an extremely rapid phase between veraison and ripening, normally this would take around 5 weeks but this year it has been two weeks.”

Social distancing procedures have had to be brought in to prevent the spread of Covid during the harvest, though a Nyetimber spokesman said the brand did not anticipate it would affect its speed or efficiency. 

“This year has inevitably brought serious setbacks, but the industry has reacted nimbly to address the issues and as a result we have also seen significant developments in direct to consumer sales and increased growth through the UK retail sector. We therefore remain broadly positive for the future,” said Wine GB chairman Simon Robinson.

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