Monday, 29 October 2012

2012 - A Challenging Year

2012 will be remembered as a very difficult year for vineyards in England. Quite simply the weather has been dreadful - the worst that anyone can remember since 1997.

Having successfully protected the vines against the April frosts, the problems started with poor fruit set in the summer. Grapes pollinate themselves and need a period of dry warm weather in late June/early July. Unfortunately it was wet and windy which reduced yields to only 25%-30% of what they might have been. The wet weather also resulted in some downey mildew on some of the chardonnay. More recently the lack of sun meant that some of the fruit took a long time to ripen and the harvest was delayed by almost 3 weeks. We were then hit by a fairly severe Autumn frost!

To make sure that we didn't compromise on quality we have selectively hand picked only the ripest bunches of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for our Silent Pool Rosé 2012. We won't have a lot of it (around 1200 bottles) but what we do have should be very good.

Overall we picked about 3.5 tonnes of fruit which will also be used to produce a base wine for our bubbly which will be released in 2014/2015.

Alex and the team have done an amazing job this year in delivering some great fruit in very challenging conditions. It is particularly gratifying that we were able to do this whilst sticking to our organic principles of not using any systemic chemicals to fight off disease. From what I've heard we have faired much better than most conventional growers.

Many thanks also to family and friends who helped with the picking. Ever optimistic, I'm sure that next year will be a bumper harvest.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

First Pinot Grapes are Harvested

Yesterday we hand picked around 700kg of Pinot Noir for the 2012 Silent Pool Rosé, which produced around 450 litres of excellent must. It's been a very difficult year so we decided to selectively pick only the very best fruit to ensure that we maintain our quality standards. Next week we will pick the ripest Pinot Meunier which will also be used for the still rosé. The production this year will be small like last year but the quality should be good.

The Seyval and Chardonnay still need to ripen further and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a bit of an Indian summer next week.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Harvest Update

This time last year we had picked all the grapes on the vineyard and Silent Pool Rose 2011 was in the making. This year the weather has been so dreadful that we have had to delay the harvest for 2-3 weeks to take advantage of a few last rays of sunshine, which will hopefully increase the sugars and reduce acid levels. Whilst good sparkling wine requires fairly acidic juice, still wine needs to be made from must with lower acid levels and a higher sugar content.

To help the ripening process we have been stripping leaves away from the grapes and taking off unripe bunches to give the remaining fruit the best chance of ripening. Some of the Pinot bunches are now quite ripe but equally some are not. We have therefore decided that we will probably pick the ripe bunches at the end of next week and leave the others for a further week when we will also pick the Seyval and the Chardonnay. A final decision on picking dates will be made this Wednesday when we will assess the acid and sugar levels with our expert winemakers.

Whilst quantities will be lower than we would have hoped for this year, there is still a good chance that we can produce some really good quality wine.