The good weather at the end of September combined with a warm and sunny June means English winemakers are currently predicting a good harvest this year, and a bumper crop.
While picking is slowly starting in English wine-growing regions, with only early-ripening varieties being harvested so far, most winemakers have reported the vintage is looking good so far.
'The crop is looking pretty big,' said English Wine Producers marketing director Julia Trustram Eve. 'There’s a lot of fruit out there; now it’s about achieving that time-critical balance of sugar and acid. The winemakers just want the acid to drop sufficiently to achieve it. The last two weeks of sunshine have helped with that. Whether it’ll be a bumper crop like last year, I don’t know yet. But it’s looking pretty good so far.'
Charlie Holland, winemaker at Gusbourne, echoed this view: 'A cool, cloudy and wet August led to a slight delay in the onset of ripening, but now with some good sunshine hours behind us over the last few weeks and the weather set fair for the rest of the month, the harvest is looking full of potential. The fruit is immaculately clean and the vineyard canopy is in perfect condition considering the stage of the season. The juice has an excellent balance between sugar and acidity, particularly in the Pinot Noir. An exciting few weeks lie ahead of us.'
At Ridgeview (vineyards pictured top), harvest has been put off until next week due to the early October rain, said CEO Tamara Roberts. 'Our sugar levels are improving by the day whilst still maintaining great acidity which is so important for the structure of our base wines. We are expecting a lovely clean crop with good yields and a great balance of sugar and acidity, intensified by the extra time on the vine which will optimise the fruit flavours.'
She added: 'We started off the season with little or no frost risk, followed by excellent conditions for flowering. Due diligence in the vineyard has led to beautifully clean grapes. 2015 has been a good year for vine growing in the UK.'
Hush Heath also decided to pick its grapes later due to a lack of sunshine, but the team's got no concerns about quality, and is expecting a bigger harvest than usual.
'I haven’t had any reports of disease issues,' Trustram Eve added. 'The dry weather has been great, and while there’s a bit of rain at the moment, it’s not constant or horrendous. I haven’t had too many miserable winemakers speak to me – that’s always a good start!'
Now starts the waiting game for the elusive British sunshine to finish the fruit's ripening and help it reach the much-desired sugar levels...