With harvest finished on 23 October, it’s time to reflect on what has been a year of challenges, learning and successes.
Strange to think that until March we’d had less than 1cm of rain: and I wish I hadn’t made that comment at the time, as the heavens then opened and hardly seemed to close all year. We were lucky though with only three frost incidents and our new infrared frost protection system in the Church Block ensuring we suffered no damage.
The warm weather through bud-burst, flowering and fruit set laid some solid foundations for a great year and while the rains in July & August were reminiscent of 2015 it was much, much warmer. That was a blessing keeping growth and development on track and a curse as mildew was a constant threat: some vineyards in Europe were decimated but we kept on top of it with regular bicarbonate sprays.
The September sun helped enormously but even so harvest was 2 – 3 weeks later than last year because of the earlier wet weather and was spread over many more days as the blocks ripened at much different speeds this year.
The weight of berries was exceptional and many producers have recorded their “best ever” harvest. As I’ve said many times this autumn, though, there are different versions of “best”. For All Angels, “best” means only one thing – best quality. To achieve the best quality this year, we cut off and discarded a significant number of very healthy grapes from August onwards to ensure the right quality of ripeness, sugars and acidity. We could have had a “best” year in weight but we wouldn’t have had the quality as much of the weight came from the rain which at the same time as swelling the berries also diluted the quality concentration. We are not a “volume player” and are only interested in quality.
We are very pleased with the quality of our grapes but suspect 2023 will not be as outstanding as 2022. Time will tell, however, as it will be many years before we release our 2023 Vintage wines, following our usual policy of long-ageing on lees.
Huge thanks to all our volunteers this year. We really couldn’t have done it without you and hope to see you all again next year.