News & Events

Harvest Report 2017

The year started off with little winter frost and the vines started stirring in mid-March leading
to one of the earliest bud-bursts that we’ve every had in early April.  March was a record 2.2°C above the 1981-2010 average and early April saw temperatures as high as 25.5°C in Eastern and South East England. As ever with an early bud-burst, the  danger of damage by spring frosts increases as the vines are at a more advanced stage when it occurs. And occur it did. The 19th and 20th April saw widespread ‘inversion layer’ frosts but we were lucky at Downsview and only had minor damage <5%. Many other vineyards were badly affected.

May saw a few more frosts in the first two weeks, but after that the weather improved and for much of May and into early June the weather was good with little rain and lots of clear sunny days. Flowering started around the early to mid June, two to three weeks earlier than usual, with perfect conditions as temperatures rose to over 30°C in mid June. Days over 30°C are rare enough in the UK, but to get three to four in as many days with a peak (at Heathrow) on the 21st June with 34.5°C is remarkable and never seen since 1976. After the ups and downs of the first half of the year, the rest of the growing season followed a fairly usual pattern. July, August and September were devoid of any really long, settled sunny spells and it seemed that if it wasn’t raining it was blowing and vice versa. This made canopy management, disease control and weed control challenging. We had to battle with mildews for the rest of the growing season, which I unusual and frustrating for us. However it all turned out well in the end.

As with the flowering, véraison was early (mid-August compared to the norm of beginning of September. We started harvest with the Ortega on 10th September (joint earliest with 2014) and finished with the Chardonnay on the 15th October with some fabulous help from family, old friends and new friends.

The yields across all varieties were excellent. Second only to 2014 and we filled our tanks to capacity. We even had to leave half a row to the birds as we had run out of tank space (and energy). Sugars were high in the resultant juice and acidity levels were near perfect. Overall, despite the disease pressure it was an excellent year and were looking forward to sharing the 2017 vintage with you all soon.

Ref: Thanks to Stephen Skelton for some of this information.

Bacchus 2016 Release

We are delighted to announce the release of our 2016 Bacchus for which we have already had great feedback from our long standing customers. Pale straw in colour, with a  strong, floral, honeysuckle aroma and a fruity palate with lime zest and hints of black pepper. 2016 proved to be an excellent year with regards the quality of our grapes although our harvest overall was down by about 50%, so I suggest you grab this beauty while you can, it won’t be around for too long!

Harvest Report 2016

Extract from Stephen Skeltons UK Harvest report :

UK harvest 2016

Vintage 2016 in English and Welsh vineyards has turned out to be one of two halves: one half was good – excellent sugar levels and very ripe grapes – whilst the other half was not so good – yields in many vineyards were way below those required to pay the bills. It has also turned about to be one of two halves in respect of geography: the east of England – East Anglia, Kent and East Sussex – had much drier conditions and higher sunshine levels and fared much better than counties to the west of East Sussex.

The weather

The year started off with fairly good weather and bud-burst occurred at the normal time. Some vineyards, especially those in West Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, suffered from a few late spring frosts which set their vines back (especially Chardonnay) and led to low yields in those vineyards affected. Weather during the planting season was fair with little rain, but from around mid-May to the end of June, conditions were wet and temperatures below average which led to Downy Mildew starting in some vineyards. Some varieties – Bacchus, Pinot noir and Pinot noir Précoce – suffered from EBSN (Early Bunch Stem Necrosis) and in part accounted for the low average yields. Because of the cool run-up to flowering, it took place a little later than average, and was split into two halves. Early varieties and early sites got a poor first week for flowering, but a better second week; later varieties and later sites got two good weeks and consequently fared better. Poor flowering conditions in many vineyards resulted in considerable run-off and coulure and millerandage were very evident.

After flowering the weather deteriorated and for the second half of July and the first half of August, sunshine levels were lower than average and bunches were very slow to grow and expand. Véraison in many vineyards did not really get going until the end of August and extended well into September and it was looking like it was going to be another late harvest, similar to 2013 and 2015. However, the weather brightened up around mid-August with Gravesend in Kent recording 33.9°C (93°F) on 24 August. The warm and dry weather continued into September and October and saved the day in terms of sugars, but of course could do nothing about the small yields in many vineyards. Many growers reported low bunch weights and small berries, this probably being due to the fact that the stalks of the bunch did not have the weather they needed to grow, and then when the good weather did arrive, there was a lack of moisture to swell the grapes. Harvesting took place in almost completely dry conditions – a rarity in the UK – and winemakers have been reporting excellent wines from all varieties.


2016 was undoubtedly a challenging year for UK winegrowers. Only a few will have covered their growing costs and even fewer will have full wineries. However, the high ripeness levels, dry harvest and clean grapes are some compensation and there should be some excellent wines, both still and sparkling, for drinking in the future. 2016 has also emphasised the part played by region, vineyard site and vineyard management in creating a truly sustainable grape growing and wine making enterprise.

Sales, Tours and Tastings

We’re pleased to announce that we have received our Premises licence that allows us to host tours and tastings at Downsview, as well as cellar door sales We plan to offer a number of guided ours and tastings throughout the year of the vineyard and the winery. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about English wine and our journey at Downsview. We also offer tour vouchers which make and excellent present for Friends and Family (click here)

Unfortunately it is difficult for us to have regular opening hours for cellar door Sales, but please drop in whenever the Open sign is exhibited. Thank you.

Wines From England's Green and Pleasant Land