May at Albourne Estate - English Wine Week

Chardonnay vines

Chardonnay vines - Credit: Archant

Saturday 23 May is the beginning of English Wine Week. Why not get to know your local producer Albourne Estate, by fixing up a vineyard tour or acquainting yourself with its owner Alison Nightingale and her award winning wines at the Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival on Hove Lawns?

Basal shoot removal

Basal shoot removal - Credit: Archant

Alison gives you a taste of what to expect...

In many ways this is the most beautiful time of year in the vineyard. So far we appear to have dodged any frosts without having to light the ‘bougies’ (hurray!) and the young shoots are growing fast. This photo of the Chardonnay vines at the top of the page shows the young shoot now with four or five leaves unfurled and the developing inflorescences, generally two per shoot, each of which will go on to form a bunch of grapes.

Also growing fast (as I’m sure those of you with lawns to mow will know!) is the grass and weeds. So we have started regularly cutting the grass throughout the vineyard. Apart from this, the main job we’ve been doing this month is basal shoot removal. This involves rubbing off by hand all the shoots growing at the base of the vine (see photo directly above) which will not bear any fruit, so that the vine concentrates its efforts on the shoots growing from the fruiting cane. That’s a lot of bending down (41,000 times in fact!)… but thankfully I have help with this!

In the winery we finished our 2014 vintage work with the bottling of over 12,000 bottles of sparkling base wine in one day. These are now sitting in cages in our bottle store whilst secondary fermentation gets underway. This is how the ‘bubbles’ get into ‘traditional method’ sparkling wine. Fermentation will take several months.

Beyond this exciting things are happening as we launch the 2014 still wines with numerous tasting events including the start of this season’s Vineyard Tours & Tastings. I am also delighted to say that the 2014 wines continue the competition success of the 2013’s – already winning multiple awards at Decanter, IWSC and IWC 2015...

Lastly, don’t forget its English Wine Week 23–31 May with many special events and promotions going on in vineyards, restaurants and wine merchants in Sussex. We will be at Hove Lawns on 30 and 31 May as part of the Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival.


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Spring is in the air at Albourne Estate - Albourne Estate is springing into action this March, with the first sign of growth from the vines, the start of bottling for its 2014 vintage and plans to take part in the Brighton Wine Fair at Hotel du Vin next month. Alison Nightingale, the owner of the award-winning vineyard near to Hurstpierpoint, explains...

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