Everything in the world of wine depends on weather. Managing the impact of a difficult year and maintaining consistent quality is something Gusbourne excels at. This year, though, conditions could hardly have been kinder.
“Bud burst came in early April,” reports Chief Vineyard Manager Jon Pollard. “We had cold nights but no frost, the temperature never dipped below zero. So no damage and a really positive start to the life cycle of the vines.” Growth was regular thanks to only moderate rain in early May, leading to successful flowering in mid-June under warm sunny weather and conducive temperatures.
Vine flowers are self-pollinating and success relies upon the weather conditions. Dry and warm conditions have prevailed which have been excellent for the successful pollination and fertilisation of the flowers. Consequently, the flowers have gone through fruit set and now begin to resemble berries within a bunch of grapes.
The next stage, berry swell, sees the grapes begin to take shape. At the time of writing, mid-July, they’re not yet the size of peas but are developing well.
“The vines are looking fantastic this year – no fungal disease, and the leaf tissue is a wonderfully uniform green. It’s hard to tell the yield at this stage, but it’s looking promising.”
Berry swell will continue for the next four weeks, after which we’ll expect to see the first signs of veraison. This is when the grapes begin properly ripening. Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes turn from green to red, and the Chardonnay softens slowly into a golden tone. And then? “Then we know we’re six weeks from harvest,” says Jon. “All hands on deck and time to begin thinking about next year, when the cycle starts over again.”
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