Camel Valley on track for record harvest

The 2013 harvest is underway at Camel Valley in Cornwall in what is set to be the estate’s largest crop since it started producing wine in 1992.

Camel Valley's winemaker Sam Lindo begins the 2013 harvest. Credit: SWNS

Camel Valley’s winemaker Sam Lindo begins the 2013 harvest in Cornwall. Credit: SWNS

Speaking to the drinks business, chief winemaker Sam Lindo said: “We’re looking to crush around 220 tonnes this year, which would make 2013 our biggest crop in 21 years.”

“The last time we came close to such a crop was in 2010, when we crushed 200 tonnes, but it’s likely we’ll beat that this year. We’ve just finished picking our Reichensteiner, but we won’t be finished with our Pinot, Bacchus and Seyval until the end of October.”

Lindo put the bountiful crop down to the July heatwave, which, he said, “saved” the vintage.

Sam Lindo gets down and dirty with his Reichensteiner grapes

Sam Lindo gets down and dirty with his Reichensteiner grapes. Credit: SWNS

“The first half of the year was worse than 2012 and by the end of May we thought we’d be left with a load of unripe grapes. I was anticipating a disaster, but luckily everything caught up,” he told db.

“All the flowering took place during the July heatwave, which has never happened before, and everything flowered together in an instant – it was brilliant,” he added.

As a result, Camel Valley is set to double production of its sparkling wines this year, from an average of 70,000 bottles to 150,000 bottles.

Rather than flood the market with wine, Lindo plans to use excess stock to top up his reserve wines, which have been running low after two small harvests.

“I’ve noticed in England over the last decade that the good and bad vintages come in twos, with two bumper crops following two small crops.

Rich pickings: 2013 is set to be Camel Valley's largest harvest yet. Credit: SWNS

Rich pickings: 2013 is set to be Camel Valley’s largest harvest yet. Credit: SWNS

“We’ve really eaten into our reserves over the last two years, so this year’s sizeable crop gives us the opportunity to catch up on 18 months worth of sales.

“We were having to release our sparklers with less time on the lees than we ideally would have liked, but with the extra stock we can leave them for the full 18 months, along with three months of ageing post disgorgement before release,” he said.

Lindo believes this year’s favourable weather conditions provides a welcome boost for English sparkling winemakers after a tough 2012 vintage, when West Sussex estate Nyetimber took the bold step of not making any wine at all.

“I think 2013 will be good across the board for most English producers. It’s a chance for us all to catch up on stock and great for the industry collectively – we’re all very happy,” he said.

Despite the difficulties last year, Lindo revealed he was “proud” of his 2012 sparklers.

“Initially they looked like they were going to have really high acidity, but a lot of it dropped out when we made the wines and balanced things out. They’ve turned out well,” he said.

The UK enjoyed one of its hottest, driest and sunniest summers on record this year.

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