Weather a corker for wine

WE may bemoan the weather, but it has been a great summer for grape growers according to local vineyards.The Indian summer has boosted the British grape harvest by a fifth, according to some estimates.

By Tracey Sparling

WE may bemoan the weather, but it has been a great summer for grape growers according to local vineyards.

The Indian summer has boosted the British grape harvest by a fifth, according to some estimates.

Hot, wet weather during August topped with a warm, dry September created the perfect growing conditions for small, sweet grapes across Suffolk.


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August was warm and wet which really helped the vines to produce a good crop. Then dry and warm weather in September was ideal because the grapes carried on ripening but did not get too big.

At Witenagemot Wine in Shotley, where vines were planted in 1997, the first vintage has now been bottled and is ready to drink. Owner Stephen Williams produces four types of wine.

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At Shawsgate Vineyard in Framlingham, one of the biggest winemakers in East Anglia, managing director Rob Hemphill said the conditions had been: "Virtually perfect, with the exception of July – which was a vital period because that's when the vines flower. Some varieties did not set at all.

"But the quality will be well up this year and it should be a bumper harvest

because of the lack of rain."

He said processing the grapes started on Tuesday.

At Bruisyard Wines, owner Ian Berwick is preparing to harvest next week.

He said: "The quality of grapes will be fantastic because of the lovely autumn we are having.

"The crop will be quite good, on a par with last year, but it certainly won't be a bumper one. The rain we had in July meant a lot of the grapes did not set."

At Willow Grange in Crowfield, owners Peter and Jill Fowles harvested their crop on Saturday.

Mrs Fowles said: "It's been great – perfect conditions. All the grapes are in the winery now and we will wait until next week before testing them to check the quality.

"I tasted some today, and they were very nice even at this early stage."

She said grapes had been grown on the site for eight years.

Weblinks:

http://sol.brunel.ac.uk/richards/wine/ukvines.htm

www.realms-of-arcady.co.uk/useful/winemaking.html

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