Winemakers expect a dream harvest
Wine producers are in a buoyant mood as this year’s long, hot summer has made for a great growing season, making the harvest of 2018 one of the earliest on record. Grape picking started in the last week of August.
High yields of fruit are predicted, especially as many more acres of recently planted vines are bearing fruit this year, meaning that 2018 looks as though it will be a record-breaking year.
UK producers are optimistic as growing conditions this year have prompted both early ripening and large volumes of healthy fruit, bringing harvest forward by an average of two weeks.
Simon Robinson, chairman of the industry’s national body, Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) and owner of Hampshire-based Hattingley Valley , comments:
“The whole wine industry is excited about the potential this harvest brings which will probably lead to the highest level of production ever. Growing conditions across the country have been ideal and this shows in both excellent quality and high yield. This is very welcome as sales of wine continue to rise rapidly, both domestically and overseas. The wine industry is a bright star in the UK agricultural sector which is concerned about the post-Brexit world. The wine producers of Great Britain are looking forward to the future with increasing confidence. 2018 looks to be a very welcome harvest, although as many have commented, nobody counts on anything until the grapes are safely in tank or barrel!”
There is also a positive outlook for this year’s vintage amongst producers in Wales.
The anticipated large harvest comes at a time of unprecedented growth for the wine industry of Great Britain, with the hectarage of vines planted doubling in the last ten years and tripling since 2000. In the last two years alone, more than 2.5m vines have been planted in England and Wales. Earlier this year, WineGB set out its growth predictions for the industry over the next decades, indicating that by 2040 annual bottle production will reach around 40m bottles.
Julian Barnes, at Biddenden Vineyards in Kent, is optimistic for harvest 2018:
“This will be our earliest harvest since Biddenden was established 49 years ago. We’re expecting a big crop, with plenty of ripe fruit in the vineyards and fellow Kent producers concur. However, as any good farmer will tell you, nothing is guaranteed until all the grapes are in the winery!”