Cheers to a remarkable year in English Winemaking!
In 2023, English winemaking faced the ever-unpredictable English Climate, reminiscent of a thrilling contest like “The Eliminator” from TV programme, Gladiators. The English wine industry, a determined contender, battled through the climate’s trials and tribulations, emerging as a resilient and triumphant champion. This year promises to be an exceptional vintage, balancing quality and quantity.
Frost – The Season Starter
As autumn takes over, vines prepare for their winter slumber. But the real magic begins in spring with “budburst,” the first signs of life. This stage is as delicate as a house of cards, with the frost lurking around every corner. In 2023, our English wine champs had a bit of a late start due to a rather chilly March and April. Surprisingly, this chilliness slowed down the budburst, protecting the vines from frost damage. Off to a good start!
Flowering – Seeking Sunshine
Now, all our vines crave is sunshine. English vineyards rely on natural rainfall, and most vines have deep roots that reach groundwater. These resilient plants thrive in hot, dry conditions, setting the stage for the next challenge: flowering. While self-pollinating, the delicate process requires calm weather. In July 2023, conditions were good, making flowering a breeze.
Véraison – A Colourful Transformation
August and September bring veraison, where grapes change colour, sugar levels rise, and they become irresistibly delicious. Unfortunately, these delectable grapes also catch the eye of birds, badgers, wasps, and even ramblers. But our vineyards have some tricks up their sleeves, including bird scarers, clever fencing and ramblers are directed into the tasting rooms, ensuring that the precious harvest is protected.
Harvest Time – Battling Mould and Mildew
It’s harvest season, and the weather can be a bit tricky in September. Mould and mildew can be the final vineyard foes, and a bit of dry, sunny weather is what we all hope for. Rain near harvest can lead to swollen grapes and diluted flavours, which isn’t ideal. However, in 2023, we lucked out with unseasonably warm conditions in September and early October.
Credit: Bolney Wine Estate
A Stellar Vintage – The Result of Triumph
So, what’s the verdict for 2023? It’s been one of the best years for English winemaking! While the still wines will be released next spring, some of your favourite Sussex sparkling wines will be resting in dark cellars for up to five years before they are unveiled. Exciting times ahead!
But wait, if you’re eager to see the results of this fantastic vintage, we’ve got some great news for you. Check out these Instagram posts from some of the top vineyards that reported a fantastic harvest:
- Bolney Estate: See the stunning photos of their abundant grape clusters and the beauty of the vineyard at harvest time.
- Beacon Down Wines: See the video of their ‘bountiful bacchus’ grapes at their vineyard near Heathfield.
- Sugrue South Downs: Hear from owners, Anna and Dermot, a summary of their first harvest from Bee Tree Vineyard.
This year’s vintage is bound to be a treat for all wine lovers – cheers to English wine! 🥂🍇🇬🇧 #GreatBritishWineTours #VineyardTour #EnglishWineTour #WineHarvest2023