Harvest is over and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Now the English weather can throw what it likes at us and I won’t worry for a few months!
In the end the grape quality of the 2015 vintage was much better than I had dared hope for given the relatively poor summer and late ripening.
Volumes on some varieties were down on 2014 but in the end this was a blessing in disguise…as the lower the yields the easier it is for the vines to ripen what grapes they do support – so in a late season, low yields are a critical requirement for achieving quality.
After a cool and damp August, there was Just enough good weather in September and October for us to pick some lovely fruit, with well balanced sugars and acids. I am now looking forward to the 2015 wines which I know have a lot to live up to after our incredible success with our 2014’s.
The vineyard gate is firmly shut for two months now while I concentrate on the wine making and sales side of the business. Come early next year we’ll commence the winter pruning of the vines…but now they are going into a period of dormancy and rest (don’t we all wish we could do that!) as the leaves turn colour and fall.
In the winery, all the wines have now completed alcoholic fermentation, which lasted from between six to 22 days depending on variety and our desired style.
For the wines we intend to make into sparkling (which we call base wines) they are also undergoing a different type of fermentation called malo-lactic fermentation which changes the acids present in the wine. This involves warming the wines to encourage the fermentation to take place and spending a few hours in the lab checking on progress by placing tiny dots of the wines on special paper! It takes me back to school chemistry classes!
Meanwhile, we are developing a special gift box for Christmas containing three of our award winning wines. This will be available for sale from our cellar door (for pre-Christmas opening times please see our website or follow us on Twitter) and via our website (www.albourneestate.co.uk).
If you are in the Chichester area on December 5 please do come to the Vicars’ Hall (10am – 5pm) where representatives from five different Sussex and Hampshire vineyards are presenting and selling their wines in a special ‘pop-up’ shop. We hope to see you there!