Overall, 2016 was not an easy year for vine growing in England but it came good for us in the end. Late spring frosts in April which destroy buds at bud break had an affect on yield. June was wet at a key time when vines are flowering and self-pollinating so bunches were smaller. Rain at this time brought with it an increased risk of Downy mildew so we adjusted our spray programme accordingly and sprayed when weather conditions permitted. Weather conditions were really good though in July, August and September and it became clearer that we would be getting a substantial first crop.
As we don't have our own winery yet, we looked around for a contract wine maker and signed up with Litmus based at Denbies wine estate in Dorking, Surrey. Kristina has family in Dorking and has memories of walking near to Denbies as a young child well before any vines were planted so it seemed fitting to send our grapes somewhere familiar. We made use of Litmus's excellent laboratory facilities in the weeks leading up harvest to analyse samples of juice and determine optimum picking dates. These dates were set about two weeks ahead. Teams of professional pickers were booked and arrangements for the transportation of our grapes to Dorking were made. Our pickers were mostly from Romania and were unbelievably speedy, joyful and reliable. 6.5 tonnes of grapes were picked in two days which was above our target for this stage given the vines are young planted in 2014.
We would like to thank everyone who has helped us get to this stage. It's been an amazing journey and we are very excited about the future. In the coming months we will be finalising the style of our rose wines. BD Creative have been working with us over the summer on some label designs which are innovative and daring! These are near complete so we just need the wine!