The harvest is now underway in the UK, with growers across the country reporting that 2016 is shaping up to be a high quality vintage. Pickers were out in the vineyards as early as mid-September in some parts of the UK, but the main bulk of grapes is being harvested now and over the next fortnight.
After a challenging start to the growing season in some parts of the country, with cooler temperatures and unsettled weather up to and over flowering, the warm and dry August and September, still continuing in to October, has allowed the vines to produce some high quality fruit. Earlier ripening varieties, many of them for still wines, are showing ripe fruit flavours, with high sugars and good acid balance.
“Overall, 2016 is looking to be a fantastic vintage for the UK,” reports Julia Trustram Eve, Marketing Director of English Wine Producers. “We haven't experienced any dramatic weather patterns such as seen in other parts of Europe and have had the benefit of some great summer and early autumn weather just when our grapes need it.”
“It's too early to predict yields but they are looking to remain a good average. There will be more acres coming into full production this year to add to the volumes being harvested this year.”
When it comes to the sparkling wine varieties, wine consultant and Master of Wine Stephen Skeltonis expecting sugars and acids on Chardonnay and Pinots to be excellent for sparkling as well as some great fruit for still wines. “If people wait, then some very good still wines from these varieties will be produced as well”. These varieties account for over 50% of all the plantings in the UK.
Sparkling wine producer, Lawrence Warr of Henners Vineyard, based in East Sussex adds: “It's looking like a fantastic year in the vineyard. The fruit is plentiful and ripening apace. The wonderfully warm summer has led to early ripening. It looks like another great year!”