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English vineyards report exceptional vintage for 2016

Published:  12 October, 2016

Wine producers across England are reporting an exceptional vintage as harvesting gets under way.

Despite cool temperatures and variable weather through the early months of the growing season, both August and September have been warm and dry, allowing vines to produce high-quality fruit.

Picking for earlier ripening varieties began in mid-September, and vineyards are reporting ripe fruit flavours, with high sugars and good acid balance.

"Overall, 2016 is looking to be a fantastic vintage for the UK," Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of English Wine Producers, said. "We haven't experienced any dramatic weather patterns such as seen in other parts of Europe and have had the benefit of some great summer and early autumn weather just when our grapes need it.

"It's too early to predict yields, but they are looking to remain a good average. There will be more acres coming into full production this year to add to the volumes being harvested this year."

The sugars and acids in the Chardonnay and Pinot grapes promise a first-class vintage for both sparkling and still wines. "If people wait, then some very good still wines from these varieties will be produced as well," Stephen Skelton MW said.

These varieties account for over 50% of all plantings in the UK.

Chris White, general manager of Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey, said: "The high quality of our fruit is due to the favourable weather conditions, which will in turn enable us to produce a record amount of single varietal 'vineyard select' wines.  We are anticipating high yields and expect to double the amount of sparkling production from last year's harvest."

Lawrence Warr at sparkling wine producer Henners Vineyard in East Sussex said: "It's looking like a fantastic year in the vineyard. The fruit is plentiful and ripening apace. The wonderfully warm summer has led to early ripening. It looks like another great year!"

Further west, Langham Estate believes the 2016 vintage is its best to date. "The grapes are showing fantastic physiological ripeness with near perfect levels of sugar and acid," Daniel Ham, the estate's winemaker, said.

Harvesting will continue through most of October. The final figures on the yields and other latest vineyard statistics will not be released until spring 2017.