WineGB on the weather: Earlier harvest, irrigation and vintage potential – analysis

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Brits love to talk about the weather. And as the UK experiences record temperatures, what does this mean for the nation’s vineyards?  

The trade organisation for English and Welsh wine says cropping vineyards are “looking good”, as dry weather persists.

“The dry winter, followed by a dry spring and now a dry summer has been exceptional in the UK,” a spokesperson for WineGB tells Drinks Retailing. “Cropping vineyards are looking good – with a not huge but not small potential crop from the ripening fruit.”

However, it’s not all plain sailing, the spokesperson warns, with monthly rainfall in some parts below average since November 2021.

“One grower reported that the dry period we are experiencing is unlike anything he’s known since being back in England since 2006. The high temperatures and low rainfall slowed shoot growth.”

The lack of rain is particularly tricky for new vines. WineGB explains that newly planted vines this year have been watered by some vineyards, although the general feeling is that most received some decent rainfall around planting time.

“Some vineyards are being irrigated manually – those planted in 2021 and 2020 in particular,” the spokesperson adds. “A few vineyards have installed drip irrigation, which has helped the vines deal with the more severe heatwave temperatures and has helped vine moisture status. This will help ensure a smooth ripening process by avoiding drought stress.”

Warm, sunny weather is great for vine growing. However, hot, prolonged dry weather can be a challenge to the ripening fruit, WineGB says. “And lack of moisture will affect the bunch and fruit size leading to a potentially smaller crop, although we're hearing some reports that they are currently looking reasonably average weight. Some are holding back from stripping too much canopy to protect the grapes from too much sun damage.”  

And of course, we are seeing more hectarage coming into full production in the UK year-on-year, which will contribute to the overall final yield.

“Whilst it is still far too early to make predictions, we’re looking at a slightly earlier than average harvest,” finishes the spokesperson.

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