On 29 October we harvested our 2016 crop against a background of fine autumn colours. It was a relatively small crop - for the most part probably owing to the poor weather at the crucial time in the previous summer when the potential for the following year’s crop is substantially determined. But it was of good quality, with sugars 20% higher than in any previous vintage.
The grapes, 82% Pinot Noir and 18% Chardonnay, were pressed the same day at the Wiston winery, and the juice tasted delicious. Fermentation is now progressing in oak barrels, and tastings confirm the promise of a wine that we hope will give great pleasure in the 2020s.
It had been an interesting year. Budburst – when the first green leaves emerge from the buds – was relatively late, in May. In one way this was fortunate, because at the end of April and the beginning of May there were 7 night frosts in 9 days. These would have been damaging had budburst been earlier, and growers elsewhere with more forward vines suffered. May was generally a fine month, and the vines advanced rapidly.
Then came a dreadful June, with little sun and a lot of rain (over 7 ins, 180 mm). Of crucial importance is the weather during the period when the vines flower and the flowers set into grapes. Cool, wet weather inhibits this. Luckily again, the late budburst meant that flowering was delayed until July, when dry, though rather cloudy, weather enabled a decent fruit set. August, September and October then provided very good ripening weather, and the crop that we were able to harvest was both ripe and healthy. We hope that the fine August will have laid the foundations for a good-sized crop in 2017.