On writing this blog post, or at least attempting to write it, I realised that I should really be better at writing a daily journal or blog. The sheer lack of good material to talk about is staggering. I mean this in terms of good material of which I am able to actually recall. The last entry was at the end of April and it’s now mid-September. 5 months worth of stuff has gone on and I’m sitting here staring at the screen praying that I get bothered and distracted by something...anything… anyone?. Not even a fly passes.
I better crack on then…
I’ll keep this short-ish. As I mentioned, lots has happened and I should have done a better job of documenting it. I have plenty of technical information regarding the vineyard, such as jobs done, how long they took and daily weather etc. This isn’t overly exciting for most to read about. So I’ll skip all that. Apart from weather description.
The growing season has been more challenging than in 2018. Certainly not the one big chunk of amazing weather we had. I was starting to wonder what all the fuss was about when growing grapes in the UK and thinking, regrettably I might add, “It’s easy growing grapes in England”. Oh boy, I know I will pay for that thought even crossing my mind.
We had lovely hot and dry weather at flowering, and fruit set was brilliant as a result. There was the odd shower but nothing to overly worry about provided you were timing the sprays well.
In mid July it turned wet and windy in spells, interspersed with sunny days. Going into August, we had a fairly typical English August. Overcast yet warmish days, wet spells and at times, very heavy rain. We had to be alert for mildews as the weather was ideal for both downy and powdery. The rain may not have allowed for other producers to get out in their tractors and spray to keep the mildews away from this years crop. Being on chalk we rarely have any issues with drainage, if any issues at all. We did, however, have a small incidence of powdery mildew in the bottom corner of Three Acre where we have blocks of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. We managed to get this under control and realised that there was likely more disease pressure here as it is normally where we spray last and rinse out the tank, thus less/ more dilute fungicide would be applied.
The fruit is looking great. We have managed to keep it clean and disease free so far and the yield is looking excellent. Our yield estimate came out at just under 25 tonnes. This was slightly concerning as we have to be cautious not to over crop our young vines (4 years old) as this would hinder their functionality and cropping potential over the next two growing seasons. We decided not to go ahead with a hard green harvest but ended up removing satellite bunches (small bunches closer to the canopy) that would never be ripe by the time we harvested. We have also been removing some of the shoulders of the bunches as these tend to ripen at different rates to the main body of the bunch. All of this is to ensure that we have a more consistent ripening of the whole crop.
That’s the vineyard season in a nutshell so far. We have had about a week or so of lovely weather and that is supposed to continue through to the end of September. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Some other great things that have happened:
1. We were at the Longleat Food & Drink Festival on the 22nd and 23rd June. This was our first outing away from the vineyard, which doesn’t happen very often. It was incredible. We had such a great reaction from the visitors over the two days and the wine was very well received. I must say a huge thank you to all of the lovely people who supported us from that event (You know who you are!) and have since supported us also. We really hope to see some of you at harvest (all of you if possible!). John Torode was very kind and supported our wine in his live cooking event on both days! Check out the posts on our Facebook page of our stand and pics with Johnny boy himself looking very happy to be there.
2. Toby and I are due to be at the Salisbury Food & Drink Festival on Sunday 29th September. Hoping to be selling our wine by the glass and if we can get it arranged, some seating with platters as well. Come down and say hi if you’re around!
3. A great friend of mine and an extremely talented winemaker, Jacob Leadley of Black Chalk, has found a home for his wine brand. I would really encourage you to seek out his wines as they are delicious. The best thing is that they are only based over the way in Stockbridge! So do that. We're very happy for him and Black Chalk. Bravo!
Harvest is supposed to be from mid October this year. For those of you who are keen to get involved, just give me a call/ text or email. My contact details should be at the bottom of every page of our website and on our contact page also. So bring your friends and family and help us with our monster harvest. It should be a good laugh as well. We will be having some good food and wine as well of course. May even get out some of our own beer that has been conditioning nicely. So don’t miss out. I will keep those who have subscribed informed via the mailing list, otherwise keep an eye on our Facebook.
Thanks for reading, if you read it… I know it’s a tough old slog reading my style but I really appreciate it.
I hope there are some interesting snippets in there for you.
Please reach me via email if you have any comments/ questions or suggestions at email@example.com. Or if you’re happy to leave your comments on the blog post itself, then please do.
I will definitely post another before we get into full swing for harvest.