Vintage update: England 2018


Between the vines at Coates & Seely. Photograph: Simon Peel

Between the vines at Coates & Seely. Photograph: Simon Peel

As we enjoy brief relief from the summer’s prolonged heatwave, we caught up with some of our English wine producers to see what the weather means for the 2018 vintage here in the UK

While the persistent heat and lack of rain has not been good for our farmers, if nature doesn’t send us an autumnal curve ball, 2018 looks set to be an excellent harvest.

Looking back five months, it’s hard to believe we were in the chilly clutches of the Beast from the East, which brought with it unusually low temperatures and heavy snowfall. Eventually the Beast receded back into its cave, and while this cold start to spring set back the growing season ever so slightly, the delay meant the crucial bud-burst stage was frost-free.

A year of extremes, the frighteningly chilly start to spring was followed by an unusually warm late spring. This enabled an unhindered flowering stage, and as the warm weather continued, pollination took place without drama, leading to bunches with a good number of berries.

Our prolonged heatwave has meant the grapes are ripening well. Where vineyards – such as Hambledon and Gusbourne – are located on chalk-based soil, it acts like a sponge – retaining and replenishing water supplies for vines. So, despite the unusual heat, there are no signs of stress in the vineyards at all.

But what does all this mean for the wine? Well, the grapes are advancing well and are likely to be picked earlier this year. Following the small harvest of 2017, this year’s harvest – all being well – will be far more bountiful. Things are exciting and, dare we say it, 2018 could be one of the best English vintages yet.

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