A Record Breaking Summer?

Inflorescences glowing in the evening light.

It’s perhaps still a little early to tell if this is going to beat the famous summer of ’76 as the longest, hottest summer on record but the signs are good.  We’ve had a record breaking warm May, June looks like (in the final analysis) it might be the hottest since ’76 and therefore the second hottest on record, and the forecast looks set fair for a another couple of weeks or more.  The Jet Stream, harbinger of wet, cold summer weather and conveyor belt of storms (remember 2012) is flying high above the British Isles and plunging through Eastern Europe, where it seems to be bringing cooler and wetter conditions than they’re perhaps used to.  However, for us this means settled weather.

Who knows too, if we will see those record temperatures set in 2003 broken at some point, maybe the 40C barrier could be broken.  It’s all conjecture, we love doing it us Brits, weather is without doubt a favourite topic.

So in the vineyards this means rapid growth, early flowering conditions and hopefully a record crop for our young vines. And this from a position of a late spring start as the seemingly endless winter brought cold front after cold front to bear on the vines that stayed resolutely dormant until early May.  If you’d have walked around the vineyards on May 1st you’d have been shaking your head wondering if the tight brown woody buds would ever burst.  But burst they did, in record time and throughout all that warm May they exploded into growth unlike we’ve ever seen them do.  Not just here but everywhere!

Looking verdant and bushy in earlier June before tucking in began.

Now, normally we’d be praying for dry sunny weather in the Wimbledon fortnight (even a little after up here) whilst flowering and thus fruit set gets underway but this year we noted flowering in The Little Vineyard on 22nd June for Solaris, which was at 25% by this point, Rondo was even further ahead and Bolero started on 23rd June. In the higher Doehole Vineyard Solaris started on 26th June, and on the same day Rondo was noted at 75-80% flowered – so job done here!

Whilst all this is lovely it meant that the vines are bigger, more vigorous and already in need of considerable work.  It’s meant that trying to keep things tidy and well-maintained in such a tight window has been a challenge!  So, for our now well established vines this all good news, they like the dry conditions, we shouldn’t need to worry about watering them, and we should have a good crop. But there’s always a but.

I worry a little though about what the autumn may bring, weather like this always goes with a bang.  Undoubtedly we’ll be harvesting earlier this year, how much earlier we don’t know but we still need a good finish to September and into October to ensure we can get healthy clean grapes off the vine.  It’s looking good but there are no guarantees.


English Wine Week 2017

English Wine Week 2017 will take place Saturday 27th May – Sunday 4th June 2017

English Wine Week is a national campaign, designed to raise awareness of English wine across the country.  There are a wide range of activities which take place across the country to celebrate English Wine Week, involving both retail and leisure outlets, and at the vineyards themselves.

English Wine Week starts over Spring Bank Holiday which is also half term holiday for most schools. It marks the start of the tourist season, and the vineyards themselves are waking up to the new growing season – there is plenty to see and enjoy.

Please see below the listings details of forthcoming events and news about the events will be posted on our newspages. Don’t forget to follow #EnglishWineWeek on twitter. Read More

The Grape Harvest

It has been a funny old year so far. For us in the Amber Valley it has been an extraordinarily mixed growing season and we’re by no means unusual in that.  Speaking to winegrowing colleagues in Cornwall they too have experienced an unusual year.  I love this time of year; the season of worry, wondering and nail biting now behind us and seeing what nature gives you in the end.  At this point you shrug your shoulders and say ce la vie!  Read More

Know Your Grapes – Pinot Noir Precoce

Over the last couple millennia grape varieties have been crossed and changed to make all the modern grape varietals possible, but frühburgunder (/frūeh-bur-gūn-dur/) has remained unchanged for over 2000 years. It stands alone. 

Frühburgunder is the German name for the grape varietal called “pinot madeleine” in French and also sometimes “pinot noir précoce.” It is by far the oldest pinot and the others, such as pinot noir, pinot gris, and pinot blanc, share no ancestry with frühburgunder. 

It is a noble grape that is as rare as it is special, albeit is a favoured red grape in England due to it’s earlier ripening.

The German name frühburgunder literally means that it is a pinot that ripens earlier relative to other pinots. “Burgunder” is used in German to mean a pinot because pinots are grown with well-known success in Burgundy, France and the German word for early is “früh.” 

Frühburgunder ripens usually in mid to late September with medium öchsle measurements. 

That is a couple weeks before the grape varietal spätburgunder (/shpāt-bur-gūn-dur/) (pinot noir) which means the “late pinot.” Frühburgunder is typically an intensely colored medium tannin red wine with pronounced strawberry, over-ripe cherry, blackberry and red currant tones. 

As frühburgunder ages it typically develops licorice and plum tones and then sweet wood and nutty nougat later.