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August Vineyard Update

2023’s growing season has certainly been contrary at best. A slightly underwhelming July followed a rather fantastic June, whilst this month has a lot to answer for! The unsettled weather puts the team on high alert for signs of disease in the vineyard. Vigilance and attention to detail are key to disease prevention, and our dedicated vineyard heroes have this in spades. The team are out daily ensuring the vines’ canopy is kept neatly tucked within the trellis to maintain airflow and exposure of the berries. As well as manual canopy management, a new mechanical leaf stripper has been busy in action, clearing foliage from the fruiting zone to create the best environment for the ripening bunches.

We are typically one of the first vineyards in the UK to begin harvest, thanks to our unique microclimate (did we mention the Crouch Valley has been declared as one of the most suitable sites for viticulture in the UK?!) and early ripening varieties. We anticipate commencing harvest in September. . .which begs the question…what happens on the Estate in August??

The month before harvest is a mixture of anticipation, planning, preparation and more planning.

August is a time when our winery, vineyard, warehouse and commercial teams come together to discuss yield prediction, wine requirements, logistics, harvest labour, winemaking styles and schedules for the vintage ahead. The regular meetings are always a great opportunity for everyone to discuss new ideas, crack open a bottle of (English) wine and strategize together.

After a short closure for the summer, the Winery is now back open and ready for action! We’ve recently welcomed Jacques to New Hall. Jacque’s (pictured right) been working within the South African wine industry for 5 years and has moved to the UK to pursue his passion for cool-climate winemaking. Jacques will be heading up the Winery Team alongside Head Winemaker Olly (pictured left). Olly comments: “I can’t wait for Vintage 2023 – I’m excited to be working with such a dynamic team and am delighted that Jacques has joined us. In particular, Jacques has extensive experience in red wine production in South Africa – his experience with barrels and oak will contribute significantly towards New Hall’s development in the English Red wine scene.

Jacques has learned from some of South Africa's best winemakers and he aims to introduce some techniques that he has learned from his previous harvests. He says he is very excited to start his new journey with New Hall and can't wait to harvest with the young, passionate and experienced team. We’re poised and ready to produce the very best wines using the very best techniques and fruit.”

In the Winery, every tank, press and pump will be cleaned, polished and sparkling to perfection ready to receive the first crop. As they say, winemaking is 90% cleaning…

You’ll also find our Winemakers buzzing about on quadbikes to take berry samples from each parcel of our 120 acre estate. Once berry samples are taken, it’s time to don the white coats and start analysing in our Estate lab. We’ll be testing the juice for natural sugar, acidity and pH, as well as taste and phenolic ripeness. Sampling is an ongoing process which must be undertaken on a regular basis to monitor ripening across each varietal and to establish ideal harvest dates. Our vineyard manager Andy and Ollie will be virtually inseparable at this crucial stage, making sure that all systems are in place to pick and receive the fruit at near-ideal parameters.

Andy comments: "The period leading up to harvest is always a time of anticipation for me, as we’ve worked extremely hard throughout each season to reach this point. This has been a challenging season, but we continue to mitigate challenges by keeping our vineyard practices current and progressive. My team and I feel a huge sense of pride when delivering the very best fruit to the winery, essentially handing the baton over to Olly and his team"

That's all for now folks - we'll keep you updated as we progress through the growing season! In the meantime, we'll leave you with a snap of the vines in real-time. All berries are going through the next stage of their development - a process called veraison. This is a fascinating process characterised by the colour change of berries, signifying ripening grape seeds within the berries, and flavour and phenolic accumulation in the skins. Pop down to see veraison at New Hall if you're in the area!

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