It’s hard to believe we’re already in the throws of summer and eagerly anticipating our harvest just a few months from now.
Summer on a vineyard sounds idyllic – rolling hills, blue skies and clear views. But the reality is that it can be hard and often sweaty work. As with pre-season, maintenance plays a huge part in keeping the vineyard and winery at its best, but we also use this time of year to concentrate on flowering, which helps us predict our potential yield – an exciting but nervous time for any winemaker.
Flowering and fruit set
Our ‘headline’ vines are the Vitis Vinifera species, which produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier and Bacchus wines. The vines flower in early summer, and it’s worth noting that because this vine species is hermaphrodite, it doesn’t rely on birds and insects for pollination.
Now the vines have flowered, we’ve moved on to the process known as ‘fruit set’, where the flower forms a berry. During this time, we can assess the vines and understand the kind of yield that we can expect from this year’s harvest. Understandably, this is a tentative time for us, and it involves a great deal of counting to make accurate predictions for the total amount of grapes harvested from the entire vineyard.
This canopy management practice is typically used in wine grape vineyards. If we don’t thin our shoots, we may find ourselves with a very congested canopy of vines. We try to avoid this as it can reduce airflow throughout the vineyard and increase humidity. These factors combined can extend damp periods, which doesn’t make for happy grapes.
Trimming and mowing
This is essentially a haircut for the vineyard. We use a machine to trim the sides of the canopy to keep the vines’ growth under control. Similar to pruning, we remove excess leafage from the vines, which also helps with airflow and sun exposure.
Continuing the analogy, let’s think of mowing like shaving. We are ensuring that the rows between the canopies are nice and neat, keeping our cover crops under control. Whilst they are great for our vineyard's overall biodiversity and soil health, we must ensure they don’t become unruly and draw too much of the ground’s water and nutrients away from the vines.
Prepping for harvest
Harvest prep, as mentioned in ourpre-season blog, is a crucial time of year for a vineyard. Many hands make light work, so we look for volunteers to help us pick grapes. It’s also a busy time for cellar teams, who will be getting ready to accommodate the harvest.
We absolutely love the change of the seasons. No two years are the same, and we’re always finding new ways to be a more sustainable business. We heartily encourage you to visit our vineyard and winery to see first-hand the incredible work that goes into making English wine.
Penn Croft is open for tours and events, so why not come along and enjoy a fine day out at one of Hampshire’s finest wineries? See what we’ve got going on here.