Fringe Box



Exceptional Harvest at Local Vineyards

Published on: 11 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 14 Nov, 2023

Grapes grown on the North Downs near Guildford.

It has been a good year for grapes.

We have all got used to seeing vineyards on our local stretch of the North Downs. It is said that the “terroir” they offer and our changing climate make them better, now, for champagne than the original area in France.

With the 2023 grape harvest complete, Albury Organic Vineyard is celebrating a huge crop while Greyfriars describe theirs as described as “a monster”.

Predictions of a great year for English winemakers started back in May when spring arrived and passed with minimum frost damage. A very wet July saw the berries swell with water but also led to concern that mildew would hit the fruit, a potential disaster for the Albury team who manage their vineyard organically.

Nick Wenman owner of the Albury vineyard said “Warm weather is crucial to ensure that a large crop is also a quality one. At one stage we were worried that all the rain would cause disease and, as we’re an organic vineyard, we can’t rely on systemic sprays to combat this.”

“The September sunshine was a welcome relief and we’re delighted that the 2023 harvest has turned out to be exceptional both in terms of quantity and quality.”

The harvest began at the beginning of October and took place over three weeks of sunshine and blue skies. With so many grapes to pick, both the Albury and Greyfriars teams were lucky to have willing volunteers to lend a hand.

“Nearly 300 people were involved in the harvest this year and we couldn’t have managed without them,” tells Lucy, Nick’s daughter, who is General Manager at Albury. “Our wine club members even helped us crush some of the grapes!”

And in answer to the question how does it taste? Greyfriars says on its website: “It’s early days yet but the initial tasting of the pressed juice is very exciting and in particular, this is the first year we have had enough Pinot Blanc to press it on its own which we are all excited to taste.”

In total, Albury harvested nearly 54 tonnes of fruit from their vineyards. “We’re likely to produce around 45,000 bottles of wine from the 2023 vintage. Most of these won’t be ready for drinking until 2026 but we look forward to releasing our still wine, Silent Pool Rosé, in May” summed up Nick.

And at Greyfriars after 13 days of frantic picking and pressing, they have “absolutely smashed” their record for the total size of the harvest, which had stood at about 200 tonnes, by over 25 per cent.

Fiona Giles with her harvest of grapes.

Not to be outdone the Dragon editor Martin Giles also recorded a record harvest from a single vine. “It is now, thanks to my wife, many jars of a delicious grape jelly.”


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