The wine is in barrels and tanks and we’re breathing a small sigh of relief and there is time to reflect how the year has gone at Oxney. 2020 will, for many reasons, be remembered by us all. Today we’re celebrating a new US president in this household. But let’s not get political… back to vineyard and wine – much more interesting.
The spring was gorgeous. We bottled the 2019 vintage in shorts and t-shirts (and gloves and face masks) and with the rest of the UK wine industry we were talking about a brilliant 2020 vintage. In the middle of May frost hit the vineyard and unfortunately the well developed buds were hit by several nights of minus temperatures. But running a vineyard and winery we’re masters at picking ourselves off the floor and we reflected that a year of a global pandemic with low sales of sparkling wine is probably not a bad year to have a frost.
A Bordeaux-based vineyard experts visiting us recently compared our yields with the top French chateaux which is a wonderful way of looking at it. Low yields equal top quality.
The summer was massively fun here at Oxney. With the UK population opting for staycations we had huge success running tours, tastings, preparing picnic baskets with gorgeous organic food, filling our accommodation on the estate to the brim and having hugely enjoyable conversations with wine fans from across the UK on missions to discover the UK wine scene.
Preparing for harvest was equally enjoyable. With a small harvest and a new winemaker in Salvatore Leone we put our thinking caps on and made 2020 the year of experimentation. Discovering the vineyard and wild ferments continue to be a top priority and so does minimal SO2 and as I write this we haven’t added SO2 at all to the juice or wine.
Harvest was, as expected, small. We picked 22 tonnes using, for the first time, the UK’s second picking machine and of course hand pickers for the sparkling. `Intense days and evenings followed with the team and volunteers putting in huge amount of work and it went swimmingly. More of the spectacularly popular Chardonnay is in barrels, we’re for the first time making a small amount of red wine and other thoughts are on the drawing board and we hope to let you all know about it after blending in the spring.
2020 has been quite a roller coaster but the peaks have dominated the ‘drive’. Luckily!