If you’re a vineyard owner or manager the time between May and October is just bonkers, especially tending acres of vines!

Add into that the occasional vineyard tour and event, like the Belper Food Festival and Eroica Britannia. Holidays become something that other people have and you find your fun in things like, oh I don’t know, knocking in vineyard trellis posts, that sort of thing. 

Of course if you’ve been following events here and on our Amber Valley Wines and English Wine Shop Facebook accounts you’ll know we’ve been growing rapidly, selling our first vintage from last year and adding an expanding range of wines etc. We’ve also submitted our winery planning application this year, which has seen a not inconsiderable amount of time and effort (and money) invested.

The English Wine Shop has seen a steady month-on-month rise in sales, and ensuring our own wines made it to customers far and wide, and to local outlets like Hackwood Farm Shop, Croots Farm Shop and, major feather in the cap, Chatsworth Farm Shop. Take a look at our new English Wine Shop website here.

We’ve had volunteers join us in the vineyards too, making short work of winter pruning and, in the Spring, tying down and bud rubbing. Innuendo laden jobs if there ever was!  It is the help of these volunteers we’re most grateful for. You know who you are but let me say, you’ve no idea how much work you’ve helped us get through and your help is greatly appreciated. You’re efforts will hopefully shine through in next years wines!

That brings me to the subject of weather: distinctly average is how I’d describe it so far this year, not too terrible but not good, despite some blistering days in earlier July. That said we’ve had good flowering, which in some parts of Doehole is still going on. Elsewhere fruit set looks pretty good. How the rest of summer and Autumn develops will determine the quality of the fruit and how it ripens. Overall, I’d say we need good late ripening weather in late September and all of October, perhaps even into November. So it’s fingers crossed!

Vineyard jobs like side shoot management, tucking-in, weeding and spraying happens when it happens at the minute, as weather, especially wind, dictates the pace alongside our work commitments – and as you’d imagine, it’s not as frequently as I’d hope! Thankfully, I’ve got Drew and Bill from the Really Green and Smart Garden Company doing sterling work mowing and keeping the weeds at bay! At the moment I’m concentrating my key efforts on getting the trelliswork work up in the little vineyard and on the western part of Doehole. All this I’m hoping will be done by the end of August. Then it’s into the new vineyard and the new rows in Autumn and that should see us fully caught up!

Some of you will know that we’ve had some involvement with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in helping us look after our Doehole vineyards, after we spotted its wildlife and wildflower potential. This led to the designation of one of our fields as a Wildlife Site. It makes the management of our vineyards a bit trickier but we hope, in the long term, that it will benefit us and the wildlife by requiring reduced pest and weed management. In the meantime I am working to change the management regime in the orchard to encourage more wildflowers.

Don’t forget we’re celebrating the signing of 3 new trade accounts for our wine with a summer sale on The English Wine Shop – simply enter the discount code “SCHOOLSOUT” at checkout & receive 15% OFF any order. www.englishwineshop.co.uk

Cheers Barry

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