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Low disease pressure and minimal intervention casts warm glow over UK wine industry

Published:  24 October, 2018

Reports of high yields, high quality fruit and less requirement for human intervention continue to flood in following this year’s harvest – this time from Kent, home to the likes of Gusbourne and Chapel Down.

As harvest season draws to a close, food and drink organisation Produced in Kent is the latest to praise this year’s growing conditions, which Chapel Down CEO Frazer Thompson called “the right weather, in the right order” for the county’s – and the country’s – vines.

With a cold dry spring followed by a hot summer, little rain and a warm start to autumn, the harvest has been “extraordinary” this year, according to the group – and led to the largest ever harvest by volume at Chapel Down.

Frazer said this year’s harvest “is without peer in the history of the industry and gives us a real opportunity to not only sell more still wines next year but also put sparkling base wines aside for future growth.

“With some of our new vineyards giving us their first crop and yields higher than ever in most vineyards, we are delighted to report a 125% increase over our highest ever vintage.”

Produced in Kent’s Harvest Report looked at not only wine, but produce from farms across the county.

Fruit and vegetable harvests have seen some reduction in yield, the report said, with challenges including increased need for irrigation as well as some difficulties finding seasonal workers.

Wine it seems has been one of the main beneficiaries from this year’s extended warm spell, resulting in “excellent quality fruit” and sunshine attracting higher than usual numbers of enotourists to The Garden of England.

The consistent warm weather also helped to create a disease-resistant environment for the vines.

Emily Thompson, The Mount Vineyard’s events manager, said: “The early heat of the season was sustained past budding and long into the summer. This meant growing conditions were perfect and vineyards suffered from very low disease pressure. This consequently reduces the human involvement which means less management and less chemicals applied.”

As a result, “the yields this year are unprecedented, both in quality and volume. We expect to be stocking roughly 30,000 bottles for on-premise sales at The Mount Vineyard which is a 20% improvement on our previous record year,” she said.