Greetings to you all, and welcome to our pre-harvest update! We couldn’t feel more fortunate that the imminent start of Vintage 2023 has coincided with the incredible recent heatwave. Like us, the vines have taken full advantage of the rays, enabling the berries to ripen at maximum capacity ahead of harvest.
As you may have seen from our recent flurry of media appearances including ITV, BBC and The Times coverage (thanks, Andy!) we’ve experienced a very favourable 2023 growing season. The sun came out on cue for crucial periods of vine development including flowering and now veraison. The very hot, dry conditions in Spring 2022 initiated a bountiful number of berries, which we are now enjoying in the form of large, fruitful bunches.
The pre-harvest air of anticipation and excitement is tangible on the Estate. You can positively feel the energy as all teams are poised and ready for action. In the vineyard, half the team continue with the ongoing task of canopy management, mowing and maintenance, whilst the other half focus on harvest logistics, mobilising our fleet of tractors, trailers and quads. In the winery, we’ve welcomed our amazing trio of travelling cellar hands; Ellie, Emily and Helen, who join Head Winemaker Olly, Jacque, Peter and Sim. One of the highlights of welcoming travelling winemakers during harvest is the diverse experience that they bring from working in cellars around the globe with different varieties and techniques and often within a different hemisphere.
So what are the winery team most looking forward to this harvest?? Assistant Winemaker Jacque is excited about working with cool climate cultivators, which will present new opportunities and challenges compared to the warm climate varietals he’s worked with in his native South Africa. Jacques got his eye on our Ortega fruit, with which he’s planning on producing an ‘out-there’ orange wine exclusively for the harvest party! Sim, who you’ll find at the helm of the grape receival team during harvest, is looking forward to the buzz and teamwork of harvest. Our travelling winemaker Emily’s eyes lit up when she first saw our new winery lab, whilst Ellie can’t wait to be producing wine on her home soil, after many years spent travelling and winemaking in New Zealand. Helen loves the New Hall vintage because there’s the opportunity to get involved in all parts of the process, whilst Peter is most excited about getting the first press loaded and the juices flowing!
Andy and his vineyard team, Terry, Ion, Ovidiu, Jo, AJ, Reg and Sam, are laser-focused on getting the very best fruit to the winery, essentially handing the baton over to the winery team. We'll focus on our vineyard heroes in next month's blog.
The team are preparing to receive the first influx of handpicked fruit later this week in the form of Seigerrebe, a wonderfully early-ripening, aromatic variety that is valued for its rose-hip and fleshy stone fruit characteristics, and will later form an essential component of our Signature wine.
Our picking team will be reinforced with the arrival of 20 experienced pickers next week, and our attention will turn to harvesting the parcels of the Estate’s white varietals. Our winery team will sample berries and bunches on a daily basis, monitoring their ripening for the perfect ‘sweet spot’ of perfect acidity, sweetness and aromatics.
Wishing our fellow growers in the UK, and our neighbouring vineyards in the Crouch Valley, a very warm, dry and successful Vintage 2023!