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 :)






Friday, 26 September 2014

Harvest getting closer - wine club, family & friends picking date set for 18th October


So far this year we have been blessed with pretty good weather; certainly a lot better than the last few years. As a result, our grapes are ripening sooner than last year and we are now planning our harvest.

It looks like we will start picking week commencing 6th October and finish on Saturday 18th October, when we will get together with wine club members, family and friend to complete the harvest. The best laid plans are of course subject to the weather and dates may change!

If you would like to be involved in the harvest on the 18th October please register by emailing me at nick@alburyvineyard.com. You must be prepared to be on the vineyard by 8.00am for a briefing; you can either stay until lunch at around 1.00pm or pick for the whole day. It's quite hard work but great fun and those involved will receive a free bottle of Silent Pool Rosé next year, and will also be invited to the harvest party in early November.

Hoping for a bit more sun in the next couple of weeks!



Sunday, 7 September 2014

Veraison



During the last few weeks the grapes have started their ripening process, which in viticulture is called veraison. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes change colour from from green to red and the Seyval and Chardonnay turn more translucent. 

Grape berries have two distinct growth phases. The initial phase is when the cells divide and expand and the grapes begin to swell and fill out the bunch. After veraison the acidity decreases due to degradation of malic acid, making tartaric acid the predominant acid. At the same time sugars (glucose and fractose) are accumulated and the volume of water entering the grapes decreases resulting in an increase in sugar concentration. The level of sugar accumulation in the berries is dependant on leaf photosynthesis which is why we are hoping for some more sun! This week we will also be trailing a product made from yeast derivatives which is designed to improve the phenolic maturity of the berries.

As the fruit ripens it becomes more attractive to the birds so we've put up our KiteHawks which will hopefully keep them at bay.

Our New Barn



We now have our very own barn on the vineyard where we can store the tractor, it's various attachments and other equipment. It will also be a a base for vineyard tours and we hope to be able to open up a small retail area once we have a licence.

Of course we had to have a little celebration so we invited Wine Club members, family and friends to join on the vineyard to sample our Silent Pool Rosé 2013 (now sadly sold out!). About 100 supporters visited during the day and some had picnics on the vineyard. They were also treated to tours around the vineyard from Alex, and Ian, from the  Surrey Distillery showed visitors their shiny new distillery next door at Sherbourne Farm

The harvest is getting nearer and we are hoping for some good weather in September to ripen the grapes. The likely harvest date for Wine Club members, family and friends is Saturday 18th October, although this could slip a week dependant on the weather.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Attila's Bite

Attila

Last year we had a problem ripening our Seyval, the majority of which we decided wasn't good enough to make quality sparkling wine. So what to do? Luckily a new distillery has moved in next door to us and we have decided to make a grappa style spirit from what amounts to around 900 litres of Seyval wine.

Attila's Bite, as we intend to call this fragrant aromatic spirit, is named after Alex's new Parson Russell Terrier, who prowls the vineyard chasing the pheasant and other unwanted visitors. We hope that it will be available for sale in September. It will pack quite a punch so please drink responsibly!