British sparkling wine producers Nyetimber have begun their harvest season. With estate owned vineyards spanning across three counties – West Sussex, Hampshire and Kent – this year’s 280 hectares will be the largest area harvested to date and will produce over one million bottles of sparkling wine.
Harvest is a time for celebration at Nyetimber. It is the culmination of all the incredible hard work put in throughout the year by Winemaker couple, Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix, Viticulturist Ben Kantsler and their teams.
Nyetimber proudly use 100% estate grown grapes to produce their wines. All vineyard sites have been carefully selected for their ideal elements: all have gentle south facing slopes and the vines are grown on either greensand or chalk soils. During the long growing season, they carefully monitor the acid and sugar levels in the fruit, and the developing complexities in the flavours in the grapes.
Once they reach peak ripeness, Cherie, Brad and Ben lay out the picking order of the vineyards, which then transform from a state of calm and tranquillity to a bustling hive of activity, as an additional 350 seasonal recruits arrive to pick each bunch of grapes by hand. These are then placed into shallow 15kg baskets to ensure they remain in perfect condition as they reach the pressing centre, located at the Manor Vineyard.
Changeable weather is part and parcel of managing vineyards in England, and at Nyetimber, Cherie, Brad and Ben possess the knowledge and experience to ensure their vines have thrived this year in what has been an even cooler summer than usual.
Harvest began this year on 7th October with the picking of Pinot Noir grapes at the Tillington vineyard in West Sussex, before moving to the Manor vineyard over the weekend. If all goes to plan, the harvest team will be in action until 23rd October.
Discussing this growing season, Brad said: “The cooler summer has delayed our harvest compared to the previous few years; however, we have been making wine in England for 30 years, so we have developed ways to make the most of the climate in which we grow our grapes. Having estate owned vineyards really plays to our advantage in years like this as it allows us to realign what we do in the vineyard to assist in mitigating the cooler year.”
“This year for instance, we have changed our nutrient plan to ensure our vine canopies stay as healthy as possible as well as spending more time opening the fruiting zones to increase air flow and sunlight. Like all crops, weather plays a huge role in quality and scale of harvest. A cooler flowering period means our crop will not be as bountiful, but we are still very optimistic on the quality of our fruit.”
“The combination of hard work early in the season managing vine canopies, combined with a relatively fine September has allowed for some great looking bunches. We have experienced harvests as late as this in previous years and no doubt history will repeat itself. But for us it’s about adapting to each and every season and adjusting what we do in both the vineyard and winery to suit the year and always ensure the best possible result.”
To find out more about harvest from the Nytimber team, follow the link here.