Despite a rather challenging year in many respects, the vineyard team at Gusbourne have kept their same goal of working hard, year-round, to produce exceptional quality grapes.
From winter pruning, through those chilly spring nights standing guard against the frost, to our yearly green harvest during the summer, everything has been in preparation for harvest.
Over the next few weeks our skilled pickers will hand select the grapes, block by block, at their optimum ripeness, to be transported directly to the winery. Once there, the grapes are gently pressed and transferred to tank or barrel to start their first fermentation.
The growing season this year has again been kind to us at Gusbourne. After a lovely, warm spring and near perfect conditions for flowering, the warmth continued through the summer - with little rain leading to little risk of disease - and the vines have produced incredibly clean fruit with very good ripeness levels. We saw an earlier flowering than normal, thanks to the warm weather, which gave us an early start to the growing season and allowed the grapes more time at the back end of the season to ripen. This extra bunch ripening time has created grapes with lots of phenolic ripeness – and therefore lots of flavour compounds, which will help to create complexity in our wines.
Harvest started on 21st September, with some of the first grapes coming in from Cherry Garden and Boot Hill vineyards. After tasting through the freshly pressed juice in tanks, the quality was clear. The juice is showing a beautiful expression of fruit and balanced freshness. At this stage the juice is still sweet, as the natural sugars are still present pre-fermentation, and it’s a delight to taste! I look forward to tasting the juice from more blocks as the harvest develops, to build a picture of the styles of base wines we can expect later in the year, after the first fermentation is complete.
Beginning harvest in late September should ensure that we can get all the grapes off the vines by early October, before the weather starts to turn cooler. The added advantage of this is that the vines have longer to photosynthesise for their own reserves, rather than to ripen the grapes, before their leaves fall off. This sets them up well for next year and contributes to the long-term health of the vines – and ultimately the quality of the grapes in vintages to come.
As I write this, harvest has just started and we’re all watching the weather forecast as closely as ever! Fingers crossed for plenty of fair weather over the next few weeks.
Laura Rhys MS
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