Harvest 2020: Short But Sweet!

Fiona Shiner, Founder

Harvest is over for another year with all grapes picked and ferments almost finished. The 2020 harvest was short and sweet ... and small ….literally …. small berries, light bunches but lovely clean, ripe  grapes.  

Harvest 2020 started on Monday 14th September and finished on Friday 16th October ….at just over a month it was our shortest harvest since setting up our winery in 2016. Looking back at my vineyard update in June I commented ‘As I write this brief update from the vineyard, we are experiencing torrential rain, hail (only small thank goodness), thunder and lightning. Viticulture in a cool climate in the UK is not for the faint hearted. Flowering is a delicate process and the cool, wet and changeable weather in June is far from ideal.’

Soggy flowering back in June 2020

Chardonnay glistening in the sunlight

Well the weather in June certainly had an impact and yields were predictably low with the Pinot’s (Noir, Meunier and Gris) in particular carrying a light crop this year. Bacchus, Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay were the best performers with lovely clean grapes and good sized bunches; quality all round was high and I am looking forward to tasting the 2020 wines.

Harvest came with the usual challenges and this year in addition to the birds and animals enjoying our grapes, wasps were a real pest dining alfresco on the Siegerrebe and Sauvignon Blanc grapes in particular. Wasp traps were deployed for the first time. However, I cannot complain about the weather. Only a few days of rain interrupted play but temperatures did drop swiftly in October and the end of the season was quite abrupt. In contrast to 2018 when the season started later and the sun shone and temperatures remained warm well into October, 2020 was a very early start to the season with a correspondingly early finish.  The lower yields from 2020 have resulted in a decision not to leave some Chardonnay for a still wine …… instead these grapes are destined for a vintage Blanc de Blancs.

The smell of ferments wafting through to the office is a sign of the end of the vineyard year....  and this year’s beautiful autumn colours and leaf fall confirm another growing season is over. In a year that went viral and virtual, the vines have been a comforting reminder of the resilience of nature bringing us some normality during this pandemic. 

Autumn at Woodchester

Wasps eating the Sauvignon Blanc

2020 Harvest Team!

Harvest at Stonehouse

From the Winery

Jeremy Mount, Winemaker

Harvest began and ended in a relative flash. We are about 50% through the completion of ferments with the last fermentation of Chardonnay just starting in barrel (for Blanc de Blancs). This has most definitely been an interesting year - The yields have come in low but from the winemaking perspective it’s extremely pleasing. The sugars reached optimum levels and the acidity came down at just the right time, giving some very good, ripe phenolics and high-quality juice. Over the next few weeks, the tanks and barrels will finish fermenting then malolactic fermentations of the sparkling base wines and the reds will begin.

Last Chardonnay ferment on the go! 

Busy winery!



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