In his first visit under the Wineskills mentor programme, US winemaker and guru Al MacDonald develops a ‘school report’ on the challenges faced in a relatively new and small cool climate region.
MacDonald acknowledges in his report that “it is my understanding that the weather conditions during the current vintage are some of the worst experienced in modern wine growing of the UK.”
He experienced climate conditions characterised by a cooler and wetter than average weather pattern that persisted well into the summer. These wet and cool conditions delayed timely planting, weed control, increased disease pressure, and contributed to poor fruit set in the more mature bearing vineyards.
He writes: “I was able to visit seven of the eight sites on the itinerary. As this is a very small sub-set of the number of vineyards planted in the UK my comments are not intended to reflect the industry as a whole. All of the vineyards visited were relatively young plantings. The oldest being in its sixth leaf and three of the sites were planted this year. There were very few clusters on the bearing vines and the clusters that did develop suffered from poor set and very late seasonal maturation. It is certain that desired ripeness and yield would be severely compromised this year. These vineyards and wineries would be operating at an economic loss this year.”
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