Friday, 24 October 2014

The weather shines on our 2014 Harvest

At around 8.30pm on Wednesday we delivered our final load of grapes to our winemakers - 5 tonnes of of lovely clean ripe organic Pinot Meunier which concluded a mammoth picking day of 12 tonnes of grapes, totalling around 28 tonnes of fruit for the harvest overall.

Undoubtedly this has been our best year so far. Unlike the last three years, the weather has been really kind to us; no frosts in the spring, good fruit set in the early summer and lovely warm sunshine in July, some of August, September and early October. The rain even held off, and the sun made a showing, on our picking days.

This has resulted in some really lovely must (grape juice) with good sugars, which is now fermenting at the winery. Overall we will probably be able to make around 6,000 bottles of our Silent Pool Rosé and 18,000 bottles of classic cuvée, blanc de blanc, and rosé quality sparkling wines.

Huge thanks to Alex, Andrea, JB, Peter, Linda and Lucy, as well all of you who have been involved during the year, especially family, friends and wine club members who picked last Saturday.

Time for a bit of a rest, but not for long as we will be bottling Attila's bite in a couple of weeks time and then pruning will start in December! There will be a harvest party on December 13th for wine club members and those involved in the harvest - details to follow soon.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Crushing grapes by hand!

Last week we picked some of our Chardonnay grapes and crushed them by hand to make a Pied de Cuve. The idea of this is to cultivate naturally occurring yeasts on the skins of the grapes which can be used to ferment wine.

Using natural yeasts in this way, instead of commercial yeasts, means we can make two types of ‘natural wines’ - a biodynamic sparkling and a Petillant Naturel. We hope that these wines will have a real sense of ‘place’ or terroir, having been made with natural yeasts from the vineyard. Many people enjoy biodynamic and natural wines as they are lower in alcohol, softer in bubbles and have very few sulphites added.

The winemaker has very little control over the process of making these wines and has to rely on nature to do its work. As far as we are aware, no other vineyards in England have made a Pet Nat so maybe Albury Vineyard will be the first. Most people either love or hate wines made in this way. We will be interested to see what you think of ours!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Here we go again! Harvest 2014

We picked our first grapes of the 2014 harvest on Thursday - around 2.5 tonnes of Seyval which have been pressed to produce some 1500 litres of juice which in the wine world is called must. This will be fermented to produce a wine, probably blended with some Chardonnay, and then fermented again in the bottle for two years or more, to produce a quality English sparkling Blanc de Blancs (made from only white grapes).

It's been a good year so far for growing grapes but we are going to wait a week or two before picking our Chardonnay and Pinots to try and get the sugars and acids exactly where we want them to be, and also to give the grapes a bit more phenolic maturity. At the moment we are planning to start picking again on Saturday 18th October but this will depend on some more tests next week and of course the weather!

Happy days :)