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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Sorry about the gap. All go here!

Sun today, after rain, a relief after the long heatwave turned everything but the vines and trees brown. The vines are loving this. Even earlier than last year at the mo, and last year was our earliest ever. The warm May brought the vine flowers out before Wimbledon, a first. And 30C temperatures ensured a swift, sure fruit set. Our 30 year old vines are not carrying a massive crop; I don’t think we’ll  have to thin the fruit. But it is a biggish one. 

We’ll be watching our Madeleine Angevine like hawks to make sure we don’t leave it on too long and lose the freshness. It’s a cool climate grape, and we’re not sure how it’ll manage in these Mediterranean days. Could be picking two weeks early, on 9th September. Eek, that’s the morning after we’ll be popping corks on the Saturday night of the Oxford wine fest till 10pm. Could take a bit of organising! Too soon to be sure yet though.

We should be able to get good high sugars on the Kernling grapes if the weather stays good. Despite flowering at the same time as the Madeleine it ripens a full month later; normally we pick it the 3rd week of October. With its thick dark pink skins and open bunches it usually hangs on the vine well and just goes on getting sweeter without losing the steely acidity of its Riesling parent, rarely getting botrytis on the fruit. It can get stem rot though, so Iain will be giving it a couple of foliar feeds of calcium earlier in the season of to strengthen up the bunch stems, which usually does the trick. So we’ll be hoping to harvest at the usual time but with super-ripe grapes. But October’s a long way too far off to count chickens.

Been our busiest ever July for sales. Mainly at the vineyard but growing online orders too. I have started work on streamlining our online shop. You should see incremental changes over the next couple of weeks. Need better bottle shots. After seeing the touch of magic a good bottle photo gives a web page from using the lovely images from the IEWA competition (see our Barrel Matured sales page here>> I’ve got more ambitious. Planning to dig out the light box and tripod and have a serious go. Er....well,  when I can wrest a bit of time between trimming, strimming and deleafing the vines and labelling bottles to keep up with Iain’s sales, which is how our July and August vineyard days are spent.

Two lovely days out mid July though. On the 16th to the orangery of amazing Cannizzaro House, Hotel du Vin’s impressive lawned mansion on Wimbledon Common, for the WineGB awards. Great to catch up with old mates and make new friends. Thrilled and honoured to receive our medal certificates from no less than Oz Clarke, co-chair of judges with Saturday Kitchen’s Susie Barrie. 

Then the next day a  delivery to the groves of academe, which we took ourselves. After nosing the truck through clouds of summer tourists and passing our precious boxes of Leonora’s 16 to the college butler through an arched medieval door, we repaired with Jack and Benji to meet old friends at The Perch at Binsey on Port Meadow for a convivial and unexpectedly gastronomic lunch and an idyllic walk along the river. Pastoral, timeless views of cattle cooling off up to their hocks in water, reminding us how Oxford got its name. Jack learned to swim from a small beach on the bank and loved it. Benji, normally braver, confirmed the growing indications that he is really Iain’s dog. Frankly, he couldn’t see the point.