Brits love talking about the weather so unsurprisingly the most frequent questions on our tours at the moment are ‘do you need to water the vines’ and ‘what impact will this extraordinary weather have on your 2018 vintage’?
As you can see from our photos our vines are luscious, green and very happy indeed! Vines love hot weather and while it has been hot for England, most vines are used to growing in hotter temperatures than we've had! They have extremely effective root systems, capable of growing over 20 feet, so even in this unusually hot summer, finding water is not a problem. Much of Bluebell Vineyard is on clay unlike the chalky soil of much of southern England so only a couple of feet under the surface you can find rich, damp soil.
We spent an enlightening morning walking around the vineyards on our home site with Kevin, our Head Winemaker to find out more:
This is the hottest, driest start to a season I can remember. At Bluebell we haven't had any significant rain since mid-April and that is unheard of for grape growing in England. In terms of growth and ripening we are easily two weeks ahead of where we would normally be and we're already seeing 'veraisin' on some of our pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. We had perfect conditions for budburst, flowering and fruit set meaning there are now lots of bunches of grapes on the vine, and if this weather continues there is the potential to harvest grapes at full ripeness which will also mean excellent quality.
The grapes have swelled nicely and we are expecting the flavours to be more concentrated with potentially a very exciting level of quality. Sugar levels and acidity don't rise and fall respectively in alignment so from the end of August we'll be berry testing frequently and expecting to harvest early. We have happily been free of downy and powdery mildew so far this season, but with the cooler and wetter weather predicted over the next few days we'll be checking carefully for botrytis.
Our sites at Bluebell are on varying soils of soft clay, clay and sandy loam, and sandstone as well as different aspects, so these all have impact on drainage and the resulting canopy and fruit growth. We’ve chosen not to irrigate our newly planted young vines as we want them to learn to ‘search’ for the water and develop their strong root systems. If we make it too easy for them to find water now, they will struggle in future hot years when they mature and start producing fruit.
So to recap, the vines are absolutely thriving in this weather. As always in the UK wine industry anything can happen but there's certainly speculation that 2018 could be a year of exceptional yield and quality. If only we didn’t have to wait several more years to taste the results!
We're delighted that our Hindleap Late Disgorged Blanc de Blancs 2008 has recently won Gold in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2018.
With a score of 95 it was described by the Decanter judges as 'Flinty style with struck match aromas. The palate is taut and focused, driven by finesse rather than power. Class and elegance.'
Book a picnic lunch box for two with local cheese from High Weald Dairy, Charcuterie from Beal's Farm, biscuits and Chutney from Deerview. Take the picnic box out into the vineyard and enjoy overlooking the vines and ponds! £20.00
Please give us four day notice if you would like to book a picnic box.
English Wine Week starts tomorrow with Wines of Great Britain!
To celebrate we have a week of activities planned, kicking off with our Spring Wine Sale 10am to 2pm tomorrow. Drop in to the tasting room for free wine tastings and 15% discounts off cellar door prices. We will be showcasing our The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) and Decanter Awards Gold Medal winning Late Disgorged Blanc de Blancs 2008 and our Rose 2014, Joanna Simon 'Wine of the Week'.
We are open bank holiday Monday for tours and tastings 10am to 4pm. Join us at 2pm for our fun and informal vineyard tour. To book your tour visit www.bluebellvineyard.co.uk.
We will finish the week with our sparkling wine dinner with Alex Jacquemin on 2nd June. We only have two tickets left for this 5 course gourmet food and wine feast so grab your ticket fast!
Sussex Wine School Visit to Bluebell Vineyard 7th June
Bluebell vineyard Spring wine sale 26th May
To celebrate the start of English Wine Week 2018 we are holding a Spring Wine Sale! Free tastings, 15% discounts off our sparkling wines (minimum 3 bottle purchase) and the chance to chat to the winemaking team. Join us between 10am and 2pm.
SUSSSEX WINERIES VINEYARD OPEN DAY
5 Course Sparkling wine dinner with Alex Jaquemin at bluebell Vineyard
We are really looking forward to taking part in Brighton Wine Week which kicked off yesterday! There's loads going on over the next 10 days so check out Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival for information on wine dinners, free tastings and events.
For a taste of Bluebell Vineyard and our delicious wines join us at the events below:
Drop into Merkaba My Brighton for a glass of our Hindleap Classic Cuvee which is being featured as one of the wines of the week. Only £7 a glass, this wine will tickle your taste buds!
Sussex Tasting Tour at the wonderful Isaac At on Tuesday 10th. All dishes will showcase the best of the south coast on a plate, matched to wonderful Sussex wines including our Hindleap Blanc de Blancs. We've had a sneak peak at the menu and it looks incredible!
Brighton Wine & Gin festival on 15th April at Merkaba. We will be offering wine tastings of our full range so come and meet the team and learn about our Hindleap wines. The perfect way to toast the close of Brighton Wine Week 2018!
We are open on Good Friday 30th March and Saturday 31st March 10am to 4pm. We have our regular vineyard and winery tour at 11am on Good Friday and we have our Easter Chocolate & Fizz tour at 2.30pm on Saturday. We will also be open for drop in tastings both days.
We will be closed Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (and probably enjoying a glass of Hindleap!) and will re-open Tuesday 2nd April.
Introducing our new vintage sparkling Rosé - the Hindleap 2014 Rosé.
We are pleased as punch with this new vintage; the 2014 growing season was almost perfect and delivered fruit with great concentration of flavours. Made from 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Pinot Meunier, this Rosé is full of strawberry and cream aromas, with a delicate raspberry and cranberry crunch. It's going to make perfect summer drinking!
The Rosé is available for tasting at our cellar door and is available through our stockists including South Downs Cellars and tengreenbottles.
We were delighted to attend the launch of Sussex Wineries last night! Sussex Wineries is a collaboration of inspiring Sussex wine estates who have come together to promote Sussex wines, our tasting rooms and wine tourism in Sussex.
Thanks to the wonderful Murmur Restaurant in Brighton for hosting us and for providing delicious canapes.
We have lots of exciting plans including the inaugural Sussex Wine Weekend which will take place 15th – 17th June 2018! Check out our website www.sussexwineries.co.uk and follow us on twitter @sussexwineries for more details. Cheers!
Join us for our Easter Fizz and Chocolate Tour! All the best bits of our normal vineyard & winery tour, but with chocolate tasting thrown into the mix!
We've paired our delicious fizz with a range of luxury chocolates. During the tasting you'll get the chance to assess the perfect wine match for white, milk and dark chocolate and determine your favourites.
The afternoon will start with an introduction to Bluebell Vineyard and a discussion about grape growing in England, followed by a trip to the winery and an explanation of sparkling wine production and the magic of the bubbles! We will finish with a tasting of our award-winning Hindleap sparkling wines matched to different chocolates.
Saturday 31st March, 2.30pm. Tours are £22.50 per person and must be booked in advance via our website: http://www.bluebellvineyard.org/toursandtastings/
Join us at the amazing Isaac At in Brighton on 10th April for a Sussex Tasting Tour as part of Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival. Tickets are available from www.isaac-at.com/reservations for four courses and matched Sussex wines introduced by the producers. It's going to be a delicious evening!
Perfect gift for Mothers day Chocolate and Fizz package with 15% off.
Upcoming wine tasting at Cuculo deli 10th March
We think our vineyard looks very beautiful in the snow.
A busy January tour and tasting.
Christmas open day at Bluebell Vineyard