As 2017 comes to an end, it is time to reflect on the highs (including some excellent concerts in our newly refurbished barn) and the challenges we had in the vineyard including a late frost at the end of April.
It has been a mixed year in the vineyard, with some highlights but also some disappointments. Following difficulties we had earlier in the year, which resulted in very poor (and in some cases non-existent) fruit set, we decided against harvesting as what grapes there were would not have been of sufficient quality for our purposes. As a result we started pruning in November, which is earlier than normal. This is probably the single most important stage in the annual cycle where we seek to get the balance right between plant vigour and fruit set. So, overall 2017 was not a good year for the grapes and we are already looking forward to 2018!
More positively, we have bottled the 2016 vintage which, although the volume is down on the 2014 vintage, is looking promising. The bottles are now undergoing the 2nd fermentation and we plan to leave them to “sit on the lees” at least until 2019.
2017 was also the year we properly started the vineyard tours from which we have received some very positive feedback; and we have also now introduced cream teas alongside the wine tasting which have proved very popular. These tours will continue in 2018 on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons at 3pm from May to September. For those looking for Christmas Presents, we are offering vineyard tour gift vouchers. These are £8pp for the tour including a glass of the 2014 Sparkling Wine and £12 including cream tea. Details can be found here.
We have also recently received a distillery licence and have started to distill some of the wine that we did not use for the sparkling wine. We are hoping to make this into brandy which will be available in 2018. Watch this space
The other major innovation for 2017 was the Music@Wellhayes concert series. This was very well received, with a capacity audience for all the concerts. We will be repeating the exercise next year with a further series of concerts on the 2nd Saturday of each month from May until September. We are just finalising the programme now but it will include an evening of music and dance and a visit by a professional string quartet based in Oxford as well as, by popular demand, a return visit by the Janus Ensemble (pictured here). Full details will be available here in March.