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After a difficult growing season, and around 3 weeks later than last year, we finally started harvest on Wednesday 13th October. We kicked off by picking our Pinot Meunier, then moved onto the Pinot Noir and managed to bring all of our red fruit into the winery by the 17th with the help of an amazing team of local pickers. A spot of bad weather was due to come our way last week and Vineyard Manager Olly decided to take a few days break before starting the Chardonnay, which takes up a large proportion of our vineyard, on Thursday 21st.
It’s truly amazing how a few weeks can change the fate of our fruit. In early September the team went to WineGB’s Trade & Press tasting in London and the topic on everyone’s lips was harvest. There were a few worried shrugs and the sentiment around the room was that “we’ll make the best of it”. Producers around the country were rather apprehensive about ripeness levels after a summer of minimal sunshine, and many of them had been hit by frost early on in the year meaning that yields were down across the UK.
October came around and there was a beautiful Indian Summer, with temperatures up in the 20s some days and minimal rainfall. It’s safe to say that Olly & Justin’s spirits were lifted and the team started to get excited about the prospect of harvest.
This year there has also been a shortage of European workers, who many producers usually rely upon for harvest. We put a call out here on our newsletter, and on social media, and as a result managed to gather together a wonderful team of dedicated pickers, without whom this year’s crop wouldn’t have made it safely to the winery to begin the next part of its journey to being made into our award winning wine.
We finished harvest, just ahead of schedule, on Monday 25th November thanks to the hard work of the team and we’re incredibly excited to see what this year’s fruit will become.
Thoughts on Vintage 2021 from the Team
“Growing grapes this year has been one of the toughest seasons I’ve ever been involved with. A cold and wet start, followed by a lack of sunshine really set us back, but with the hard work of the team and very kind weather in September and early October, we’re looking at a good healthy crop. Using machines such as our Collard leaf stripper, we’ve increased airflow around the fruiting zone and managed to keep the fruit extremely clean, avoiding mold and botrytis for the most part. This has allowed it to have a few extra weeks on the vine in October to achieve optimum ripeness.”Vineyard Manager, Olly Whitfield
“There is no doubt about it, the 2021 growing season was difficult. However, due to our excellent site here in Dorset and the extremely dedicated hard work of our vineyard team, we have been able to reap all of the rewards of cool climate wine production. The beauty of English wine (and what sets us apart from the rest) is that we can achieve incredible flavour profiles in our grapes by the time that the sugars and acids are ripe enough to pick. This pure expression of fruit has been enhanced this year because of the elongated cool growing season. As a winemaking team that tries to intervene as little as possible, we have started with a near perfect blank canvas this year. It is an amazing starting point, but it is one that we have had to graft very hard for on a well-selected vineyard site and with the odd bit of good luck on the weather front thrown in. In a year that could have gone either way, I’m incredibly excited to see where we can take the wines from 2021”.Head Winemaker, Tommy Grimshaw