Oxney Diary

6 October 2015

We’re playing the waiting game

We’re playing the waiting game picture

This time last year we had picked our first harvest and had started making wine. This morning I spoke with David Cowderoy, our consultant winemaker, and he talked about late October and even early November as possible picking times in England. You can safely say that 2015 is quite different from 2014! To get the right level of sugars and acids and not to mention lovely ripe flavours we’re waiting as long as we can this year before we pick.

So we’re playing the waiting game. The winery is getting very clean, we have studied different weather forecast models and the accounts have never been in better shape.

In the vineyard we’re doing what we can do keep the fruit disease free and making sure that the many creatures that want to eat nearly ripe grapes are kept under control. Last year we invested in a BirdGard system and this year we got another one. The system has a number of speakers which we position around the vineyard. The speakers emit intermittently what sounds like bird song to me but I am reliable informed is sounds of starlings in distress and sparrow hawks. Starlings are rather keen on grapes, and sparrow hawks are very keen on starlings. A smart solution to what can be a terrible problem. We’re not sure what to do with Freda the cocker spaniel who has also developed a taste for grapes. Not taking her to ‘work’ in the vineyard seems rather cruel.

Waiting this long to pick has its challenges – and not just the starlings and the resident vineyard dog. Botrytis, in England a not very noble rot at all, can be quite a problem. We spray with a product called Serenade which contains a bacterium, Bacillus subtilise, to fight the botrytis infection. We’re also going through the vineyard cutting out infected bunches by hand. It is for sure all a labour of love. Handmade wine is probably quite a good description!

It isn’t all doom and gloom though. In between the rain we are having amazing weather for this time of year. The 2015 vintage will be late for sure but the signs are, so far, good.