As Harvest 2023 comes to a close, the fruit has been securely gathered in the winery, completed primary alcoholic fermentation and is ready to undergo malolactic fermentation- destined to become our renowned Finest English Fizz. This year stands as our largest harvest on record, demanding an unprecedented level of dedication from our vineyard and winery teams throughout the entire month of October to craft our award-winning sparkling wine. Amidst rigorous schedules and extended hours, the harvest season brings an unparalleled atmosphere that permeates the year.
From a viticultural standpoint, although subject to varying weather conditions, the 2023 harvest will be recalled for abundant yields akin to 2018. Unlike 2018 however, fluctuating weather conditions through July and August made for a much trickier season overall. However, greeted by much jubilation, an 'Indian summer' for the first 3 weeks in September aided in ripening the crop, and can be considered the 'harvest saver'. Our pickers diligently arrived at the vineyard in the early morning, working tirelessly until evening, to ensure prompt delivery of all grapes to the winery. The commencement of our harvest began on September 29th, starting with grapes from our iconic home vineyard. This kickstarted our longest and most extensive harvest to date, with all Hambledon grapes safely in the winery by mid-October.
In total, harvest of our grapes lasted twenty-three days- with the winery operating for longer still, pressing for contract customers. Our state-of-the-art gravity-fed winery processed hundreds of tonnes of grapes this harvest, and for the first time in Hambledon Vineyard’s history, we passed a hundred presses- an achievement marked with a moment of celebration- before returning to the task at hand. Our dedicated winemaking team put in their utmost effort, arriving first in the mornings and leaving last in the evenings, overseeing every aspect of the process, from pressing to fermentation. The yield this year was notably abundant, showcasing a delightful, distinctive character that promises a remarkable blend. Each tank and barrel, filled with carefully selected juice from specific plots, exudes its own unique personality, contributing to the overall exceptional quality.
Reflecting on this year’s harvest, Felix Gabillet, our head winemaker commented that “Thanks to the determination and hard work of all of our teams, we can look towards next years’ assemblage with optimism and positivity, as we see the true character of the 2023 vintage reveal itself.” As the pace in the vineyard and winery now decelerates for the winter season, the teams can take a step back, enjoy some well-deserved rest, and look forward to the beginning of the new season.