Exton Park Vineyard

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The Indian summer we all enjoyed in September was incredible. We had high temperatures of 21 degrees centigrade and lovely dry warm winds. This and correct timing of our canopy management really pushed the grapes on. Almost, over one weekend, véraison started and completed.

The team of 25 harvesters organised through Vine Care and 6 students from the local area all arrived at 7.30am on Thursday the 15th October. We couldn’t put delay any longer; the grapes were ripe for picking.

As usual at Exton Park, we started with the ripest fruit on our oldest vines. Our Pinot Noir. The vines had been previously leaf stripped, so the picking was easy and quick. There were very little unripe berries and no Botrytis to worry about. The instruction to the pickers was “pick it all”.

We then moved on to our South East facing Pinot Noir vineyard, where there have been more trials, with different pruning and green harvesting experiments throughout. We found some interesting results that will influence our management plans for next year.  The joy of this vineyard is the size of a single variety in one large plot. Again the fruit was clean and ripe – easy picking once more.

Next it was the turn of some of our younger Pinot Noir. This is always an interesting plot to harvest as it produces very low yields. As a result the fruit was beautifully ripe, but took a little more time to pick as we had to search for the grapes on the vines.

The last of the red grapes to be picked was our Pinot Meunier, making up just ten percent of the whole vineyard planting. But we are extremely proud of it, as that crucial ten percent currently plays an integral part in the flavour of our wine blends  –  and could well have a starring role in the future.

Lastly we finished off with our Chardonnay vines. We started again with the oldest ones, achieving a record number of tonnes picked in a day from this particular plot. Moving onto green grapes after picking red is usually a bit of a shock to the harvest team, but they soon got into the swing of it, and kept the two tractor teams busy getting the grapes back to the winery as soon as possible.

We ended the harvest with our youngest Chardonnay. Again like the younger Pinot Noir plot, the grapes were little harder to find. Still we flowed through it all.

Throughout the week, the mild weather was very kind to us, with only one wet day at the end.

The Exton Park 2015 Harvest was all over in just eight days. It was an excellent year with some of the best grapes I have seen this vineyard produce. May we have many more harvests like 2015……

 Fred Langdale

Vineyard Manager

Fruit on vine ready for picking      Fruit in picking box

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