Exton Park Vineyard

Archives: November 2017

Exton Park Harvest Report 2017

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Fred Langdale

Fred Langdale – Vineyard Manager

2017 started off with huge excitement, but some trepidation, as we had an unusually early bud burst in the first week of April – a good three weeks earlier than average. The excitement was that we could either look forward to an early harvest, or an extra 2 to 3 week growing season. The worry was that the vines were now very susceptible to a late spring frost.

To combat this danger, we cleared the ground of weeds, made sure there were no barriers to stop the cold air from sinking down the hill, and left an extra reserve arm on our Single-Guyot pruned vines from the lower field. This is usually all we need to do at Exton Park to protect against ground frost. Unfortunately, on the night of 27th of April a freezing cold northerly wind straight from Siberia ran down the Meon Valley. (This wind covered most of northern Europe. But it felt like it was after me alone.)

Fortunately, this only affected the bottom of the vineyard, and our higher slopes were unaffected.

Exton Park Vineyard Harvest

Exton Park’s sloping vineyard

With that near disaster over, we then enjoyed lovely dry weather for the early part of the year with temperatures regularly above 20 degrees centigrade; the perfect conditions for successful flowering and fruit set in June.

But harvests are never quite the same. To describe this harvest as a little complicated would be a huge understatement.

We had expected an earlier harvest than usual, thanks to that early bud burst, but we never thought we would begin quite as early as we did. Harvesting actually commenced on 26th September, whereas we usually start mid-October. (Corinne wins the prize for guessing the start date this year!)

Chardonnay Grapes

Chardonnay Grapes

However, with the longer growing season, cooler weather in September, and rising sugar levels in the grapes, the risk of botrytis was considerably increased.

The race was now on.

The decision was made to pick each plot twice. In the first harvesting pass we picked the ripest fruit that was most susceptible to botrytis. Thus ensuring these grapes were harvested at optimum quality. This also enabled the remaining fruit to have an extra 10 days or so to reach the sugar levels we aim for. A rather labour intensive way to harvest our grapes but, without a doubt, the correct decision for this year.

Fred Managing the Harvest

It is now 8th November, and we have just had a heavy frost down to -2 degrees centigrade. The leaves have turned from green to red overnight, and all the carbohydrates produced by the vines over the summer are now stored safely in the roots, ready to be used next year.

Let pruning commence……

Exton Park Vineyard - English Sparkling Wine

Fred Langdale, Vineyard Manager

8th November 2017

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