10th October, 2012 by Gabriel Stone
Nyetimber has called off its entire harvest, saying that the quality of grapes this year is not up to the required standard.
A view from Nyetimber’s vineyards towards the South Downs
Following a challenging growing season, which included the wettest June since records began, September failed to deliver the improved weather needed to salvage 2012 for the West Sussex producer. Conditions were reported to have been slightly better for producers in East Sussex and Kent.
Speaking to the drinks business just four weeks ago during a visit to the estate, Nyetimber viticulturalist Richard Hunter expected yields to be down by “over 20%” as a result of ”rubbish weather in May, June and July.”
At the time, Hunter said he hoped another few weeks of good weather would be enough to ripen good quality grapes. “September and October are key for us,” he remarked. The ideal conditions are calm, not too hot or windy.” He cited 2009 as the best vintage of the last decade, calling it “a winemaker’s dream – we didn’t have to do a thing.”
This was also the first vintage that Nyetimber had trialled entirely organic viticulture, setting aside a single vineyard parcel within its 400 acre estate. However, Hunter admitted: “We picked probably the worst year to try organic practices because it’s been the perfect year for weed germination.”
The decision to abandon the 2012 harvest was made slightly easier by the fact that Nyetimber produces all its own grapes, rather than being tied into grower contracts.
Making the announcement, Nyetimber winemaker Cherie Spriggs said: “The decision to not make wine from 2012 is a difficult one, not just for me but for our whole team. However, we all know that maintaining quality is paramount.
“My first obligation as the winemaker is to ensure the quality of Nyetimber’s wines, and we have collectively come to the decision that the grapes from 2012 cannot deliver the standards we have achieved in the past and will again in the future.”