Harvesting has started at Poulton Hill Vineyard, on the Wiltshire / Gloucestershire border, as UK growers prepare for a vintage year.
With the summer delivering warm and sunny conditions, English wine growers are celebrating the earliest harvest since 1982.
And growing conditions have been so good that vintners are anticipating the first vintage year – when wine is made from grapes grown and harvested in a single season – since 2014.
Fruit pickers have been harvesting half of their plump white Seyval Blanc and Phoenix grapes for sparkling wine at Poulton Hill Vineyard near Cirencester this week.
The rest of the Phoenix and Seyval Blanc along with the white Bacchus and red Regent and Rondo varieties will follow. The red Rondo grapes will be the last to leave the vines.
“Last year we started harvesting the Seyval Blanc on the 11th October, this year we started on the 11th September,” said Tiléri Charles-Jones, managing director of the three-hectare Poulton Hill Vineyard, which was established in 2010.
“Due to the wet, cool weather last year it was mixed crop and a lot of the grapes went towards distilling our Cotswold Brandy.
“This year will be an excellent one in terms of quantity and quality. We’re expecting to produce approximately 15,000 bottles from our 9,000 vines.”
After harvesting, the grapes will be pressed and fermented. By March next year the vintners at Poulton Hill Vineyard – which produces a range of award-winning white, red, rosé, and sparkling wines as well as spirits – will know what wines they can produce and in what quantities.
Customers can expect to see the 2018 vintage on shelves and restaurant wine lists in 2019.