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English Fizz better than Champagne?

Hosted by Stephen Skelton MW, a group of sparking wine luminaries recently met for a blind tasting of England's best fizz as well as some well known Champagnes from France. The tasters were(in alphabetical order): Susie Barrie MW (Winchester Wine School proprietor who wrote her MW dissertation on champagne), Dee Blackstock MW (champagne and sparkling-wine buyer for Waitrose), Sue Daniels (MW...

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Feeding the Vines

Alex and Philip distributing the nutrients by hand

During last year's growing season it was obvious that we had a number of mineral deficiencies in the vineyard evidenced by discolouring of the foliage. For example magnesium deficiency turns pinot leaves red and low levels of Iron result in yellow leaves on the Chardonnay. This was confirmed by soil analysis which identified low levels of Iron,...

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Preparing for Frost

This time of year the major issue for many vineyard managers is frost. As mentioned in previous posts, frost can have a devastating effect on a vineyard, especially in spring after bud break. Last year a nearby large vineyard lost nearly 70% of its crop as a result of exceptional frosts in May!

One of the downsides of global warming is that bud break now often occurs earlier in the year because of...

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Winter Pruning

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Inaugural UK Organic Vineyards Meeting

The first meeting of UK organic and biodynamic vineyards was held at Laverstoke Park Farm, near Basingstoke today.

Speakers included Ben Raskin from the Soil Association, Will Davenport from Davenport Vineyards, Vinodh Krishnamurthy from Laverstoke Park and Jane Awty from the UKVA sustainability group. Representatives from nine vineyards, as well as the Soil Association and WineSkills attended the...

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Mycorrhizal Fungi still appear to be working well

Mycorrhizal Fungi

When we planted the vines we dipped the roots in a product called Rootgrow, which is a mycorrhizal fungi from a company called PlantWorks. Mycorrhizal fungi normally occurs naturally in soil. It breaks down organic matter releasing nutrients particularly phosphates and can significantly increase root capacity. Unfortunately herbicides and modern farming techniques have...

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Never Mind the Weather

Nick Seymour and Alex with the Weather Station

We are now proud owners of a weather station which was delivered and installed at the vineyard yesterday by Nick Seymour.

The weather is of course a major factor in our ability to produce quality fruit. By building up weather patterns over a period of time it will help us to predict, and therefore manage, the risks of pests and disease. It will also...

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Albury Vineyard features on BBC Radio Surrey

Much to my suprise I was contacted by BBC Radio Surrey last week who were keen to interview me about the vineyard. Having overcome my nerves, my vanity got the better of me and I agreed to be interviewed on a programme called "Dig It", BBC Surrey's anwer to Gardeners' Question Time.

For those of you who are desperate to hear the interview you can get to it by clicking on the following link. It's...

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Preparing the Vineyard for Winter

Autumn Frost in the Vineyard

The first frosts have already arrived and we are now preparing the vineyard for winter.

November is normally a quiet time on the vineyard as the main job in the winter is pruning, which doesn't start until December or January when the leaves have all fallen and the wood has ripened.

Having said that, Alex has been busy sowing grass seed between the rows of the newly...

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Pheasant in the Vineyard

In spite of there being nearly 2000 pheasant living at the top of our vineyard they haven't caused too much trouble this year.

The deer fencing keeps most of them out of the vineyard as they don't fly unless they are frightened. However those that do get in are too stupid to fly out and tend to walk up and down the fence boundary trying to find an exit. Steve, the local gamekeeper chases them out...

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The Vineyard in Autumn

The growing season is pretty well at an end and we are now busy getting the vineyard in good shape for the winter. At this time next year we will hopefully be preparing for our first harvest (volunteers welcome!) but there is no fruit this year as vines don't produce any real fruit until their 3rd year. What fruit there was has either been eaten by the birds or cut off so that the available...

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The Weeds are Back!

In May we planted around 13,000 new vines. The dry summer meant that they haven't grown as much as we might have hoped, but there has been some catching up as a result of the much needed rain during the last couple of weeks.

The rain has also resulted in copious amounts of weeds and rape returning to the vineyard. The initial 5 acres we planted last year are substantially weed free thanks to the...

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