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!




Albury Estate Sparkling to be released in November


Earlier this week we tasted what will be the very first release of our quality bubbly. It's a blend of wines made from our 2011 and 2012 harvests, which were partly aged in oak before being bottled for secondary fermentation early last year. We were delighted with the results; a real credit to our vineyard manager Alex, who carefully nurtures the vines, and also winemaker Matthieu at Litmus.

During the last 18 months the wine has been through secondary fermentation in the bottle (to give it its fizz) and then matured on the lees to develop it's character. The final stage of producing sparkling wine using the traditional method (or méthode champenoise) comprises riddling the wine so that the lees from the secondary fermentation collects in the neck of the bottle. This is then frozen, removed from the bottle, and then replaced with a mixture of the base wine and some sugar, called the dosage.  The sugar is added to balance the acidity in the wine; we want to produce a dry (Brut) sparkling so after many tastings (!) we settled on just 11grams sugar/litre.

Stephen Skelton MW, who was there for the tasting, commented:

"This wine has a firm backbone of ripe acidity, superbly balanced with a touch of sweetness. It has good fruit, both on the nose and palate, and finishes on a long, firm note. An excellent first sparkling wine from Albury."

Albury Estate Sparkling will be released for sale at the end of November. Unfortunately we only have 1500 bottles so supply will be very limited.




Monday, 7 July 2014

A great start to the year!

Flowering Chardonnay
Flowering and fruit set is now well underway on the vineyard and, whilst I don't want to temp fate, the potential for this year is looking very good.

The warm start to the year resulted in bud break about 4 weeks ahead of last year and the good weather since then means that flowering and fruit set are also well ahead. This is good news because it means that we stand a better chance of some sun and warmth when the grapes will be ripening in August and September. The warm summer last year (when this years florescence was formed) has also resulted in larger potential bunches. No doubt Alex will want to take off some fruit soon!

Thanks to Alex the vineyard is looking great, with all crown thinning and wire lifting completed and the grass mown. Spraying is all on schedule and soon we will be applying biodynamic preparation 501 (horn silica) to give the vines a bit more energy to help with their growth. Alex is also doing some shoot tipping to help with fruit set. Soon we will be leaf plucking to ensure that the newly formed bunches get the optimum level of sunlight.

There's still a long way to go and we will have to be very wary of mildews setting in if we get a wet spell. However there is already talk of producing a small amount of Pinot Noir red if the good weather continues!

Normally the harvest is around 120 days from flowering so pencil in mid October in your diaries.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Silent Pool Rosé wins The Derby

Guests and racegoers at the Investec Derby Festival, taking place on 6th &7th June, will be raising a glass of English wine as the racecourse serves a selection of locally sourced wines for the first time.

Epsom Racecourse is introducing four local still and sparkling wines produced by Albury Organic Vineyard and Litmus Wines who are based in Surrey, Hoffman & Rathbone in West Sussex and Gusbourne Estate in Kent/Sussex borders.

Guests in the Jockey Club Suite will be able to enjoy a sample of all four wines and the Silent Pool Rosé will be available to the public in Owners and Trainers, the Mezzanine Champagne Bar and the new Tree Bar in the Grandstand.

The wines to be served are:

Albury Organic Vineyard Silent Pool Rosé 2013
Litmus White Pinot 2011
Rathbone Rosé Réserve 2010
Gusborne Pinot Noir 2011

Simon Durrant, General Manager of Epsom Downs Racecourse said, “During the two day Investec Derby Festival we try and source as much produce from local farms and we are delighted to be working with local vineyards and wine producers for the first time and hope to extend our partnership with them to other hospitality outlets in 2015.”