The recent heatwave in the UK has been warmly welcomed by vineyards and winemakers who say that these hotter than usual temperatures, and lack of rain, are the perfect conditions for their grapes. While many other farmers around the country have been despairing at their lost crops, as their fields crisp up in the sun, especially when combined with the frosty spells earlier in the year, these weather extremes are actually ideal for producing the perfect bottle of wine. In fact, many winemakers are predicting that this year’s harvest will be the best the country has ever seen!
The cold and wet start to the year meant that the buds didn’t bloom too early, preventing the younger leaves from being damaged by the snowy conditions. The sunny weather that kicked in during late Spring, and the high temperatures during the day, have given the grapes that little extra boost, pushing them ahead of their growing schedule. The sunny weather with almost no rain has meant that the blossoms can grow uninterrupted in the crucial early flowering stages.
Harvest is also expected to get underway in September, a week or two earlier than would usually be expected for grapes in England. Due to the incredible weather, the harvest is set to be bigger and better than ever, estimated to gain double the average amount, with more quality grapes ready to be turned into incredible 2018 vintage. This incredible harvest will also likely see some records broken. Over the past five years, the average number of bottles produced has been 5 million, with 6.5m being the highest. This year, vineyards in England are preparing for a whopping 10 million bottle harvest in total! Although, it must be said that while this is impressive for England, 10 million bottles is just a drop in comparison to some wine producing countries, with the French region of Champagne alone producing over 300 million bottles a year!
The only risk the heatwave poses for the grapes is if it goes on for too long. Having conditions that are too hot for too long can have adverse effects on the taste and quality of the grapes. This is because if grapes are overheated when growing they can struggle to keep in any acidity, making the wines they produce too sickly sweet. If the temperature gets too excessive, then the vines can even shut down growth, setting the growing season way back. However, in typical British weather style, we can anticipate enough rainy days to almost guarantee this won’t become an issue!
With more bottles than ever being produced in England this year, it looks like you’ll have to make some room on your wine rack, or upgrade to a Climadiff wine cabinet!