It’s Surrey wine watch as the 2016 grape harvest starts at local vineyards

PUBLISHED: 20:46 05 October 2016 | UPDATED: 21:09 05 October 2016

There's excitement in the air as harvest begins at Denbies, Albury, Greyfriars, Painshill and Godstone vineyards

There's excitement in the air as harvest begins at Denbies, Albury, Greyfriars, Painshill and Godstone vineyards

Archant

The rise and rise of Surrey wines looks set to continue, as vineyards from across our county report that the signs are good for a top quality 2016 harvest.

High Clandon’'s new Glass Barn tasting room officially opens in NovemberHigh Clandon’'s new Glass Barn tasting room officially opens in November

A warm end to the summer and relatively dry start to the autumn, mean that fruits are almost ready to burst on the vine with well balanced sugars and acids - key indicators of delicious wines to come.

At Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, for starters, the first grapes from what is expected to be an “exceptional vintage” have already been harvested. If all goes to plan, they expect to not only double their sparkling wine production from last year’s harvest but also produce a record amount of single varietal wines, labelled under their Denbies “vineyard select” range.’

Down the road at the biodynamic Albury Vineyard, excitement is building that the quality of this year’s harvest might even enable them to make their first red wine. While the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2016 producers of the year keep an eye on their thermometers, spreadsheets and weather forecasts, they’ve also been busy working on their Duke’s Reserve brandy with Silent Pool Distillers, which should be available from November.

For Greyfriars Vineyard, on the Hogs Back near Puttenham, things aren’t just coming together above ground - with another “fabulous” yield expected – but below it too. They’re in the final stages of finishing off their brand new chalk caves, for storage and visitor attraction purposes.

Both Painshill and Godstone yields have suffered (down 50% and 40%, respectively) because of wet weather and cold temperatures during the flowering process earlier this year. The improvement in growing conditions towards the end of summer, however, means that what they do have looks to be coming in at peak quality. “Cautiously optimistic” are the words of the day here - although an “Indian Summer” would be helpful according to Godstone’s Jonathan Deeley.

The boutique High Clandon vineyard at Clandon Downs is going high tech this year with efforts to ensure their Quintessence (owner Sybilla’s term for English sparkling wine) is the best yet. “Our grapes are spectacular this year and we expect to harvest about Thursday October 20,” she says. Just today, they’ve completed netting the vineyard against predator birds – pheasants and pigeons - and other Surrey Hills wildlife - badgers, foxes and deer. “We’ve set up an infra-red-motion-sensor camera and are capturing on film these creatures plundering. Now the nets should foil them though!” Night time wildlife photography and vineyard management, in one neat package.

High Clandon’s new Glass Barn tasting room officially opens in November, along with their annual Art & Sculptures in the Vineyard event to launch their new vintage.

Of course, none of this year’s grapes will be bottled up and on the shelves tomorrow, but the news from the 2016 harvest so far offers extremely promising signs of internationally award-winning wines to come from Surrey. Watch this space for updates…

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