English wine harvest: bumper crop forecast after summer sun

The English wine industry looks set for a bumper crop as a result of the hot summer, provided conditions remain favourable. 

Producers report this year’s warm and dry weather continued through all key stages of the vines’ growth, with flowering occurring about two weeks earlier than usual. As a result, the fruit formed earlier and grapes have been growing consistently.

Julia Trustram-Eve, marketing director at Wine GB, said: “There is also a lot of fruit on the vines, which will potentially see our highest yields yet.” 

Harvest for many is expected to take place at least a fortnight earlier than usual, with many looking at late September instead of mid-October. 

Trustram-Eve said: “There are many more acres of vines in production this year than ever before. We are seeing a period of ongoing growth in plantings. We currently have just over 2,500ha under vine. Last year we planted a million vines and this year a further 1.5 million were planted.

“This year’s fantastic growing season plus the new production from recent plantings could see an increase of production of about a third.”

Wine producers confirm that harvest looks set to be early with a bumper crop expected.

Camilla Bladon, marketing director at Hampshire’s Jenkyn Place, told DRN: “It’s probably one of our best vintages, with such a bumper harvest that we are constantly checking on tank space availability at our winery, and excitingly we are experimenting with some demi-sec sparkling wines. 

“We are expecting harvest to be about two weeks early.”

Kent-based Simpsons Wine Estate said this year looks like it will deliver a “fantastic and much-needed harvest after the frost England suffered last year”. 

It said the flowering period at Simpsons saw very little rain and no wind, resulting in multiple bunches developing on each vine. 

“This may mean a crop of between five to eight tonnes per acres, which is two to three times the average yield,” it said.

Many of England’s vineyard managers have said the weather has made work easier, although protecting the grapes from too much sun over an extended period has been an issue they don’t usually have to contend with. 

Fred Langdale, vineyard manager at Exton Park in Hampshire, told DRN: “I have had to closely look at canopy management to ensure the grapes don’t get burnt. “

Trustram-Eve pointed out that there is still up to 10 weeks before harvest. “Predictions will not be fully realised until the grapes are harvested,” she said.

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