We have a very happy winemaker (someone even heard him singing), an equally happy vineyard manager and delighted owners.
2016 marked the year of our first major harvest, as the first vines that we planted in 2012 start to yield grapes. Our harvest this year has been superb. The flavours have been great – someone had told me that you can get fantastic flavours from very young vines when they produce their first crop, it’s certainly true this year. However, it was the yield and overall quality that impressed the most.
We have been lucky as we didn’t suffer from any late frosts, our flowering was saved by a nice warm dry spell during the second week of the Wimbledon fortnight, and we had a good summer – a nice warm August and September and October were relatively dry and settled.
For the record we pressed a total of 79.5 tonnes of grapes, which yielded just over 536 hectolitres of juice which when fermented will produce over 50,000 bottles of Sussex Sparkling wine and a bit still wine as well.
The Pinot Meunier was the highlight; terrific flavours, great sugar levels but still good acidity.
We even harvested our Riesling for the first time. With potential alcohol of close to 12% we have the ability to stop the fermentation close to completion, so leaving enough residual to balance what are admittedly racing acidity levels. I’m looking forward to tasting that.
Our 2016 Sussex Sparkling wine, which will be blended and bottled in late spring 2017, will certainly be exciting with such perfect fruit from across the vineyard. Sadly, it won’t be released until 2020 as it needs to stay in the cellar to develop all those lovely flavours from the yeast lees.
Thank you to all those who helped out during harvest. We had a terrific group of local seasonal workers, many of whom have expressed an interest in coming back to help with winter pruning. Hope you’ve got some thermals? We also had a lovely group of friends and family come and help and a large group came up from the local village to pick, both in exchange for lunch.
Well done Cameron and the vineyard crew. Jonathan over to you now to make some wonderful wines…