Earlier this year vineyards in England and Wales suffered severe frosts as temperatures dropped as low as -6C and producers struggled to protect their developing buds. The news, which surfaced across the national press in May, has led many producers to worry about yields as we near harvest time in September.
The mild winter last year, followed by early Spring, meant bud development was ahead of where it usually is around April time. This means that buds have already started to burst and fruit set for next year, both of which are susceptible to frost. English Wine Producers reports that "yields will undoubtedly be lower this year" after the frost's effects.
A lower yield is concerning English wine fans as the price for the 2017 vintage is likely to increase due to lower volumes. Many vineyards are too young or too small to hold reserve stock, making them particularly commercially sensitive to bad vintages.
Despite general concern, Drinks Business reported there is renewed optimism after a heatwave in June. Lower yields, followed by sunshine, could also lead to more flavoursome grapes and better quality wines. Winemakers are particularly hopeful to preserve the quality of their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier grapes for releasing traditional method sparkling wines.
Oatley Vineyard, our friends in Somerset, are looking at harvesting around 10 days earlier this year due to the warm, dry summer and early bud burst.