Written by Matt Strugnell – Ridgeview Vineyard Manager
With the current amazing weather in the UK, we are often asked: “how are the grape vines are coping in the heat?” According to our weather forecaster, this has been the driest period from 1st June since 1921. We are thankful that grapevines have an amazing ability to grow their roots in search of water, which is currently helping maintaining their thirst.
The first symptoms we would see if the vines were becoming drought stressed, is a slowing down in vegetative growth. Well that certainly hasn’t been the case this year, quite the opposite in fact. We have had to work harder than ever to keep the vine canopy tucked in and trimmed. So, it seems that the vines are very happy growing in these conditions at the moment. It has also meant that the risk of fungal diseases is greatly reduced with dry rather than our often common damp conditions.
However if these hot, dry conditions continue, it may have an effect on berry maturity during ripening. This is one reason why we have had to start fruit thinning, or green harvesting (cutting off selected fruit now, before it matures). The vines on most of our sites are currently carrying a very large crop. In the unlikely event that the vines start becoming water stressed, the process of ripening will become secondary to the vines’ need to preserve water. On the other hand, a very large crop can also be difficult to manage if the weather becomes cool and wet, because there is a lot of fruit for the vine to ripen. So we can remove bunches at this stage to maximise the longer term potential; it is very important for us not to be too greedy!
With all of those points in mind, this is one of the most incredible years of grape growing I have seen in my career!
You can visit our Ridgeview vineyard, and the see the grapes ripening on one of our upcoming general tours, or enjoy a glass of sparkling on a visit to our Ridgeview wine garden, on the edge of the vineyard which is open every day. It is looking like an early harvest so come visit whilst we still have grapes on the vines!