Harvest report 2018

Harvest 2018 in numbers

20 tonnes of grapes
12,600 litres
5 varieties
7 growers
13 volunteers
12 days of picking
700 miles Sergio drove in a rental van  
116 beers consumed (probably!)


There is one consistent word that will come to mind when Brits are asked about the summer of 2018, HOT. Or perhaps three, HOT, HOT, HOT!  Which meant one thing for the English wine industry, bumper crops! Compared to the frost-riddled 2017 growing season, we had the opposite experience of a surplus of grapes as harvest approached.  England sits above the traditionally prime latitude of 30-50 degrees so growing grapes in this climate can be considered a gamble.  In 2018 the growers were certainly the winners with higher yields than ever before, coupled with increased planting over recent years without a doubt 2018 will be the best and largest English wine production to date. Look out!

We are pleased to report that Blackbook is part of that growth.  In 2017 we processed over 6 tonnes of grapes, producing over 5,000 bottles.  This year, we received over 20 tonnes of English grapes which we estimate will result in approaching 17,000 bottles.  The season was long due to the increased sunshine. England saw early ripening varieties like Ortega picked in late August in some cases and it was the 2nd half of October when we spotted the final picking posts on instagram, of varieties like pinot noir and chardonnay which benefit from longer hanging to increase phenolic ripeness.  Blackbook received our first grapes on the 4th of September - Ortega from Redhill Farm Estates in Kent, and our last grapes on the 9th of October -  chardonnay from Greyfriars Vineyard in Surrey.

We have received grapes from 7 growers in 2018 - a big jump from the two we worked with in 2017.  We continued our pinot noir and chardonnay focus with Clayhill Vineyard who supplied the grapes in our three currently available still wines, and added the next door vineyard to Clayhill as well as nearby Shotley vineyard in Suffolk for pinot.  We also worked with old friends, Greyfriars Vineyard, in Surrey where Sergio worked during his studies at Plumpton.  Our Greyfriars chardonnay fruit will be vinified into a blancs de blancs sparkling for release in a few years time. We are working once again with our third variety, seyval blanc, from Yew Tree Vineyard in Oxfordshire.  Finally we have extended our range to Ortega and, Britain’s favourite, Bacchus as well as an unusual red variety, cabernet noir which is a thicker skinned yet full bodied and high potential English red.  Redhill Farm Estates supplied us with these three varieties and we also received Bacchus from one more grower that we are keeping under wraps for now, all to be revealed in due course!

We had a tremendous sign up to our volunteer list this year and welcomed a wide range of people down to the winery to lend a hand during harvest peaks.  We had bankers, restauranteurs, construction folks and more joined us to load the press, do punch downs, clean tanks, move barrels and many more fun harvest activities.  We celebrated with a great party at the end of the season and are so grateful for those extra pairs of hands during a crazy period.   

We are learning every year, both in our vinification process and logistical management of the growing business with a full time staff of 1! One day Sergio drove around 700 miles across the south of England, AND processed fruit. 

Our 2018 wines are yet to be finalised, ageing and blending is to come, but we’re excited to revisit the four wines we produced in 2018: sparkling seyval, still rosé, pinot noir and chardonnay as well as expanding our range to include a sparkling blanc de blancs, a still Bacchus, a still cabernet noir and a still white blend.  Watch this space!!!

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Harvest party at the winery

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Clayhill pinot noir

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Lynsey VerrilloComment