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English wine producers upbeat as 2013 harvest begins

English wine producers are confident that this year's harvest can help them to banish memories of a rain-sodden 2012, as picking begins across the country.

Unlike many of their counterparts in France, English wine producers are expecting 2013 to be one of their better harvests of the past several years. Grape picking is getting underway across most estates from this week.

There are no official projections for size, but quantity is almost certain to be up on last year. ‘It would be really tragic if it wasn’t,’ said Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director for trade body English Wine Producers.

‘We don’t think we’re going to break any records, but we are anticipating a good vintage and an above average crop,’ she told decanter.com.

At Nyetimber, which opted out of making wine from the 2012 harvest, the harvest begins this week and head winemaker Cherie Spriggs said that, ‘following a cool spring and a warmer than average summer, the crop looks promising’. The team at Chapel Down was similarly upbeat, citing the potential for ‘excellent fruit flavours’.

In the south western region of Cornwall, Camel Valley has already picked early Pinot Noir and Rondo, although Chardonnay, late Pinot and Seyval blanc are ‘a week or two away’, owner Bob Lindo said.

Bolney Estate’s MD and winemaker, Sam Linter, said the harvest is around two weeks late, but the vines are still green and healthy, ‘allowing the grapes to catch the last bit of ripening’.

‘Our Pinot Noir for red wine is looking particularly good,’ she said, adding that overall quantity is still a little below average.

Among the newer English wineries to be established, Hattingley Valley (pictured)started its harvest last week with Pinot Noir Precoce, an early ripening clone of Pinot Noir and the main component of the firm’s rose wine.

‘We are very pleased with the quality of the grape samples coming in so far and the expected warm weather this week will accelerate the harvest,’ Hattingley winemaker Emma Rice told decanter.com.

‘The vineyard team, led by Romain Henrion, has done an amazing job in keeping disease under control and defending the vines from wasps, badgers and birds.’

Written by Chris Mercer

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