You might think of winter as a time of rest. Of shorter days, waiting for the temperature to rise and the sun to share its heat. A necessary dormant period as we wait for spring. But winter here at Gusbourne takes on a different character.
Mists and mowers
Winter here is the season of morning mists over Romney Marsh, treetops and landmarks coming into view then disappearing as the breeze rises. The vineyards and surrounding woodlands are alive with activity: pheasants and green woodpeckers preparing and repairing their nests. And for the first time, this year we have a flock of Romney Marsh sheep taking up temporary residence in the vineyards. Dan Grainger, manager at The Nest, explains: “As they graze the vineyards, the sheep are also suppressing the grasses, allowing the wildflowers to come into bloom this spring – along with delivering a healthy dose of manure!”
Out among the vines, Chief Vineyard Manager Jon Pollard and his team are engaged in what he calls “the first act of the new season”– pruning. It’s a vital part of maintaining the architecture of the vine, determining the quantity of fruit that can be harvested in the coming season. From December through to the end of March, Jon and his team are out there, meticulously working their way through row after row, over all 60 hectares in Kent and 30 hectares in West Sussex.
Dan reports that the recent dry spell has seen the teams make great progress with pruning, allowing the majority of spur selection and ‘big cuts’ to be made while the vines are dry – this lowers the risk of disease finding its way into the plant. Once the big cuts are done, the teams will return for ‘pulling out’ the old vine canopy and ‘tying down’ the vines that will come into bud in spring. In all, the team makes four passes of each of the hundred blocks. “Our methods are meticulous,” says Dan, “and they ensure the vines are healthy for many seasons to come.”
Tasting and touring
Meanwhile in the winery, ferments from the 2021 harvest are now finished and the wines are in tank or barrel. The winemaking team have started their blind tastings, which should be completed by the end of February or early March, ready for the blends to start being assembled. “This is also a time of organisation in the winery,” says Dan, “when we’re checking, cleaning and maintaining the equipment. A vital part of the winemaking process.”
It's also an ideal time to visit Gusbourne and take a tour – self-guided or with Dan or one of his team at The Nest. “We’re not quite ready for picnics just yet,” says Dan, “but we’ll have plenty to show you, to talk about and of course to taste! Winter is a magical time at Gusbourne.”
Join us at the Gusbourne Estate in Kent of a guided Vineyard Tour or a hosted Discovery Tour or Estate Tour. We also offer Self-Guided and Tailor-Made Tours. Find out more here.
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