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.