East Anglia vineyards on track for bumper year

10:23 am September 15, 2022

East Anglia grape growers are looking forward to a bumper harvest as they prepare for harvest.

They have been helped by a sweltering summer heatwave – which has withered many other UK crops – although some vineyard owners may now be considering installing irrigation as dealing with extreme weather becomes the norm.

Mark and Polly Baines of Thorrington Mill Vineyardnear Colchester, are gearing up for their third harvest after planting their first vines in 2018.

Grapes ripening at Thorrington Mill Vineyard
– Credit: Polly Baines

They grow a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Bacchus grapes on the 12-acre vineyard – named after the family farm, Mill Farm, which has one of only three working tide mills in the country.

“We start harvesting in about two weeks. This year’s harvest is going to be exceptional. This year’s growing conditions will produce incredible flavors and we can’t wait to see what the wines will taste like. wine this year because of the incredible heat we’ve had this year and the positive impact it’s having on the sugar levels in the grapes,” Polly said.

Grapes at Thorrington Mill vineyard

The bumper crop at Thorrington Mill Vineyard
– Credit: Polly Baines

“We had our first harvest in 2020, which was a good harvest and the quantities were higher than we expected. 2021 has been a difficult year, battling wet and lackluster conditions throughout the summer season. However, we still managed to create our first vintage which was incredibly popular.

“We are excited to see what this year’s harvest will bring. We have a lot of good clean fruit this year which we hope will allow us to further improve our 2021 wines.”

The couple – who started with a landscaping and fencing business in 2002 and a glamping business – decided to branch out into winemaking. The bet paid off as their first vintages won national silver medals and a regional gold medal for their Bacchus de WineGB.

“We opened the vineyard this year and hosted various events such as wood-fired pizza and wine in the vineyards, curry night in the vineyards, pork roast in the vineyards, wellness and wine experiences and an after- lunchtime painting and tasting. These along with our own tours and tastings have been very popular, attracting up to 250 people on some occasions,” said Polly.

“We are busy planning next year’s events and look forward to sharing our 2022 vintage and continuing to provide a unique and very special place for people to come and enjoy. This summer has been incredibly sweet for our events. and helped make them a huge success.”

Tuffon Hall Vineyard

Pinot Meunier grapes ready to harvest at Tuffon Hall Vineyard
– Credit: Tuffon Hall Vineyard

Linda Howardof Giffords Vineyard in Hartest, near Bury St Edmunds, predicts a very good year for sparkling wines as it prepares for harvest.

“An unusually dry and hot summer benefited most local vineyards with mild conditions and low disease pressure,” she said.

“Older vineyards are not water-stressed, although some new plantings, especially second-year sites, have had to irrigate.

“Fruit volumes are plentiful compared to last year as calm weather encouraged good flowering and fruit set, although bunch weights and extraction rates will be much lower and some varieties have slowed down. hard to reach the sugars, so the challenge will be to keep a clean crop while they have time to ripen in September.

“I predict intense flavors on the whites as the berries are small and the skin to juice ratio is high – and it will be a good year for the sparklings.

The vineyard is celebrating after picking up WineGB East’s coveted East Anglian Wine of the Year for its 2018 Classic Cuvée

Chardonnay grapes at Tuffon Hall Vineyard

Chardonnay grapes at Tuffon Hall Vineyard
– Credit: Tuffon Hall Vineyard

Angus Crowther, of Tuffon Hall Vineyard, Sible Hedingham, near Braintree, said they were excited about the upcoming harvest.

“We had a fairly mild winter with not too many frosts, a warm spring and that got the vines off to a good start,” he said.

“Going into the intense July-August heat and prolonged drought, we were first considering adding irrigation, but the much needed rain has arrived. Due to the way our climate seems to be changing , we can consider setting up a borehole to cope with future drier weather.

Bacchus grapes at Tuffon Hall Vineyard

Bacchus grapes at Tuffon Hall Vineyard
– Credit: Tuffon Hall Vineyard

“We are a few weeks away from harvesting the Bacchus – probably the end of September for this variety. The rest ; pinots and chardonnay normally follow a few weeks later.

“This year could be a bumper crop for us, concentrated sugars and slightly smaller berries – the grapes feel like they are in the south of France with the weather we have had.

“However, we don’t want any more rain – we need to prevent Botrytis and gray mold from taking hold, but if it stays dry now it will hopefully be one of the best crops we’ve ever had. had.

Angus Crowther picking Pinot Meunier grapes at Tuffon Hall in Sible Hedingham.

East Anglian grape growers expect bumper harvest this year
– Credit: Su Anderson

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