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What a difference a year makes!

What a difference a year makes! We British have a reputation for being fixated with the weather but in the English Vineyard business, at this time of year we are studying the forecasts and examining the vines with paranoid diligence.

Bud burst in the Rondo has just started and the Chardonnay is imminent, especially in our well sheltered vineyard next to Enborne Parish Church, St. Michael & All Angels; the Pinots will be no more than two weeks away.

Blue skies and sun are welcome, especially after almost 6 months of rain, but with the sunshine come the clear nights and frost.

Last year, the buds were two weeks further on and the frost hit them hard – twice. The air frosts are the killers – burning the buds. It may seem strange to say the buds are burnt but that is what happens: frost forms round the buds, then the sun comes out and the frost acts like a magnifying glass. We deploy frostguards: machines that run on propane and kick in when the temperature drops to 1C and then run until 8 am when the frost should be past its worst. Not cheap as each runs off 4 x 75kg propane tanks and they will typically last just two nights – that’s £260 each, every other night.

We are two weeks behind last year and with fingers crossed, we think that means less frost risk: keep watching for when we report back at the end of May - and keep your fingers crossed for us too, please!

What a difference a year makes!