Hand-picked by volunteers, friends and family, 2019 was our 5th grape harvest. The traditional champagne varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay were planted in 2012, some vines are not yet mature. Grape quantity was significantly up versus 2018 especially the Pinot Noir, which excelled. Each year the local conditions throw us new challenges this year very wet conditions during the grape ripening period of September and October. The fruit has delivered sugar and acid levels within the required range to make great English Sparkling wine ready for 2022!
Spring came early in 2019, the buds on the vines began to swell in April. This puts the soft buds at risk to Spring frosts. We watched the night-time forecasts carefully and put on the frost fan as required when there was a frost potential. We identify potential frost nights as a forecasted temperature of 5°Celcius, no clouds and wind of less than 5 mph. June was cold and wet, this delayed flowering. When the vines did flower it was early July during a dry spell. Fruit set was good. During September and October, it rained, a lot! The wet conditions brought on mildew and some botrytis set in. We de-leafed the fruiting area to increase the air flow, but perhaps not enough.
Varieties and Yields
Potential yields were considerably increased. Unfortunately, the mildew and botrytis took its toll and we had to leave a lot of fruit on the vines in some places.
The Pinot Noir yields were again the best, Meunier a close second, perhaps we’ll make a “blanc de noirs” or a rose?!!
This year we had no starling attacks although we did lose some berries to birds. The number did not make it worthwhile deploying any bird scaring techniques.
Conclusions and Learnings
2019 was not a good year for grape growing for wine making. In fact Tony Skuriat who has more than 40 years’ experience of grape growing in Nottinghamshire said “2019 was the wettest year ever during the critical periods”. With higher quantities picked than 2018 and good levels of acidity and lovely flavours, we’re excited to taste the resulting wines. Sparkling ready in 2022! Our harvest was completed in 5 days of picking assisted by fabulous volunteers and all of Hanwell’s team too. Until next season …