After the wettest British summer for a century and an uncertain autumn and winter ahead, the English and Welsh wine industry faces an uncomfortable truth, considers a Surrey winemaker.
Jonathan Deeley, owner of Godstone Vineyard near Caterham, has tweeted: “Personally I think that this year has been a “reality check” for many people in the English wine industry, it’s far from easy!”
His views come as a letter to ukvine’s weekly newsletter has stirred comment amongst wine growers facing up to the worst climatic conditions for a generation.
Just to say that Roger and Juliet White are right.
It’s sad when some of the biggest English vineyards hype all the time, honesty is always the best policy.
Derek Pritchard, Dunkery Vineyard, Wootton Courtenay, Minehead, TA24 8RD, UK
Your post on UK vine. Today we are picking Dornfelder at 3 tons acre (pictured). Our Reich was 78Oe on 3 October and our rondo was 70Oe,picked ages ago. We haven’t asked for the extra 0.5% because we don’t need it.
As a journalist, I’m sure that you don’t mind being corrected – it’s mostly doom and gloom but a few in the South West have decent ripe grapes, albeit less than normal, whatever normal is.
Good luck with your harvest
Bob Lindo, Camel Valley Ltd, Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5LG
Not a write-off
I read with interest the articles on this year’s vintage. It is true that this year’s crop has been won with a lot of effort and in my case at least, I suppose a bit of luck.
Here in the middle of Kent our weather has been little different from elsewhere in the country, except for the South West where it has been diabolical, but we have produced a crop about the same size as last year, so a bit below average in size.
The quality of the grapes has been excellent, the Reichensteiner and Bacchus having very good Oe and acidity. It is true that the Pinot Noir has had a difficult ripening, going on much longer than is normal for our vineyard, with a large spread in ripeness and, obviously, acidity.
In normal years I spray generally only 4 to 6 times as and when I see fit, but this year, in July, I had to spray once a week for three weeks to overcome downy mildew in particular.
The canopy needed constant attention with 4 trims instead of the usual 2 to overcome the excessive growth caused by the wet growing conditions.
It is the attention to detail that gives English wines their edge and I am sure that the winemaker that is now looking after the onward care of my grapes will produce wines from them that are not only up to the usual standard, but because it has been a low yield year, something of a premium for those wines.
I do not accept that the whole thing is a write off, and more to the point do not believe in sitting and watching a crop fail ond then moaning about it.
Dave Rackham, East Sutton Road Maidstone, Kent ME17 3DU
The original letter:
Wash out or not wash out?
I simply don’t believe the line that some people are harvesting good quality grapes this year.
I am in contact with quite a large number of vineyards not just in the SW ( Kent, Herts, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Hampshire) and all are reporting either a total wash out or very very poor crop with very mediocre sugars. The rain of the past week has diluted sugars enormously & there are widespread mildews in all the vineyards I deal with.
There must be a point at which stretching credibility goes too far surely….
Spinning is fine and some vineyards have no peers in the dark arts, but methinks tis better to be straight.
Roger and Juliet White, Yearlstone Vineyard, Bickleigh EX16 8RL