A "Miracle Vintage" Says Somerset-based Dunleavy Vineyard

Dunleavy Vineyard has a miracle harvest in 2017

Owner Ingrid Bates explains how a great start to the summer led to a brilliant harvest, despite Spring frost setting back the growing season by nearly four weeks.

Dunleavy vineyard is a small one-hectare vineyard just outside Bristol and Chew Valley in Somerset. Despite being a small plot, vineyard owner and Bristol-based mum Ingrid Bates has grown her plantings from 2008 into award-winning wines today stocked across Bristol and in London’s Vinoteca.

After releasing her first commercial rosé wines in 2013, Dunleavy vineyard’s Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc blend has won a shiny new UKWA Silver Award in 2017, was featured by Fiona Beckett in The Guardian and won a spot on ITV’s Saturday Morning with James Martin.

The pink is so sought-after across Bristol’s restaurants and with rosé-loving fans that Ingrid has to make around 4,000 bottles annually to keep up with demand. Her aim is to make a consistent, high-quality rosé each year so the surprising twist in 2017’s harvest has been very welcome news.

A welcome suprise! Dunleavy Vineyards enjoys a bumper harvest

A welcome suprise! Dunleavy Vineyard enjoys a bumper harvest; photo credit: Ingrid Bates.

A good year after all…

This year’s harvest was originally looking poor after Spring frosts, which devastated many vineyards across England and Wales, pushed Dunleavy’s growing season back by nearly four weeks.

Planted with two thirds early-ripening Pinot Noir and one-third Seyval Blanc, April’s frost damage meant Ingrid assumed a much smaller crop would be harvested for 2017. However, a life-line was on its way as a great start to the summer meant Ingrid’s vines recovered and even caught up with neighbouring vineyard Sutton Ridge, which was largely unaffected by frost damage.

Ingrid said: “Although July began to take a turn for the worst and August wasn’t great, it’s the start of the summer that’s the most important. We had a great start to the summer here and surprisingly I’ve ended up with a good yield and great quality too.”

Everyone gets involved to collect the harvest at Dunleavy Vineyard

Everyone gets involved to collect the harvest at Dunleavy Vineyard; photo credit: Ingrid Bates.

Throughout the year Ingrid manages the vines on her own, with the odd bit of help from her parents when the bigger jobs arise, but for harvest day the whole community gets involved. Ingrid’s local street neighbours from Bristol and others from previous harvests all came together on Sunday 8 October to pick the grapes. With a surprising bumper vintage, Ingrid called on vineyard neighbours Sutton Ridge to borrow some more crates to collect the bigger yield.

Thanks to the Outerspace Garden Design & Build team who've helped Dunleavy Vineyards load, stack and deliver all of my 6 harvests to date

Ingrid wrote: "Thanks to the Outerspace Garden Design & Build team who've helped me load, stack and deliver all of my 6 harvests to date - Lovely people!" photo credit: Ingrid Bates.

Starting at 10am, the team of over 30 people finished up harvest just after 1pm, ready for a bit of lunch, while Ingrid started the journey to the winery with 2017’s crop.

“It was a miracle vintage this year,” Ingrid said. “I was on the mower just two days before harvest, flattening the rows so it would be easy for the pickers to get up and down the vines. Mentally in my head I worked out the crop was far better than I expected it to be. Luckily Luke at Sutton Ridge let me borrow his crates so we could do the whole harvest in one day.”

The following week, Luke borrowed Ingrid’s crates to pick the bumper harvest Sutton Ridge enjoyed too.

Dunleavy Vineyards grape harvest are loaded up and ready to be taken off to the winery

Dunleavy Vineyard's grape harvest are loaded up and ready to be taken off to the winery; photo credit: Ingrid Bates.

Somerset’s winemaker

Ingrid works with Steve Brooksbank, the Somerset winemaker who also makes the bone-dry white wines for Oatley Vineyard and Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard’s delicious range of styles. According to Ingrid, Steve described the situation in Somerset to be “above expectations” across the board despite the Spring frosts.

So as Ingrid’s grapes start the journey to the bottle, let’s raise a glass of her exceptional 2016 vintage rosé and say cheers to a miracle vintage in 2017!

Dunleavy Vineyard 2017 harvest is pressed ready for the journey to the bottle

Dunleavy Vineyard 2017 harvest is pressed ready for the journey to the bottle; photo credit: Ingrid Bates.

A venture somewhere new

While Ingrid’s Dunleavy vineyards is locally famed for its gorgeous rosé, Ingrid is venturing outside of drinking pink with a limited run of sparkling white wine. Ingrid is working with Steve in the winery to put together the bubbly for an Autumn 2018 release.

Interestingly, there’s also a project in the works collaborating with London-based franchise Vinoteca to produce a limited run of Rondo-based red sparkling wine. Ingrid is new to the idea but keen to see how it will pan out; her intention is to create wine that’s fruity and modelled on the Lambrusco style, rather than Australia’s beefier sparkling Shiraz.

Dunleavy vineyards is certainly one to watch out for in the next few years – and, if you haven’t tasted their rosé, you really ought to buy it today!

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