Winemaker harvests following challenge of ‘very British’ summer

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This year’s “traditional” British wet and cold summer has created the biggest challenge for the makers of one of the UK’s top brands of sparkling wine.

Nyetimber has launched its two-week harvest of its 280 hectares of vineyards spread across West Sussex, Hampshire and Kent – which will produce more than one million bottles of sparkling wine.

Winemaker Brad Greatrix told the PA news agency: “The harvest is going well but it’s been a very difficult season with the variable weather and the extremely British summer we have had.

“That’s posed a lot of challenges getting the vines healthy and producing a good crop.

English wine harvest
Pinot Meunier grapes are harvested for Nyetimber Wines (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“This year for instance, we have changed our nutrient plan to ensure our vine canopies stay as healthy as possible as well as spending more time opening the fruiting zones to increase air flow and sunlight.

“Like all crops, weather plays a huge role in quality and scale of harvest. A cooler flowering period means our crop will not be as bountiful, but we are still very optimistic on the quality of our fruit.

“The combination of hard work early in the season managing vine canopies, combined with a relatively fine September has allowed for some great looking bunches.

“We have experienced harvests as late as this in previous years and no doubt history will repeat itself. But for us it’s about adapting to each and every season and adjusting what we do in both the vineyard and winery to suit the year and always ensure the best possible result.”

Mr Greatrix said that Nyetimber has also faced the challenge of finding workers for the harvest.

He said: “It’s the uncertainty, people are not feeling confident to move between jobs, there are people out there but they are not wanting to relocate for short-term work.”

Nyetimber has been producing English sparkling wine for more than 30 years and exclusively grows the three celebrated grape varieties of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

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