Long, hot summer means 2018 will be a good vintage

Suffolk grapes maturing at Giffords Hall Vineyard, Suffolk

Suffolk grapes maturing at Giffords Hall Vineyard, Suffolk - Credit: Giffords Hall Vineyard

It looks like being a great year for East Anglia’s wine producers - and so for wine drinkers.

A wet start to the year followed by weeks of glorious sunshine and minimal rainfall may have proven disastrous for farmers but one group of growers in East Anglia are celebrating.

The conditions have been perfect for vineyards, and those Est Anglia are now boasting plump fruit and predictions of a great vintage.

“It is looking really great this year, with higher yields,” said Jane Mohan, who runs West Street Vineyard at Coggeshall. “Unlike other farmers I don’t care about watering.

“With vines, like husbands and boyfriends, you have to treat them mean to keep them keen. You have to treat them a bit harshly and then you get great fruit.

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“It would be nice to get a couple of days of rain, but it is not essential.”

Jane and husband Stephen took over West Street 10 years ago, and began adding to the 600 existing vines.

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They now have more than 3,500 vines and their wines include a fine rose and a sparkling white.

There have been wines produced in East Anglia since the time of the Romans; with early evidence of viticulture found at Marks Tey - not far from the Mohan’s site at Coggeshall, from which they also run a restaurant and regular wine tasting sessions.

Jane explained that the whole family will be involved in the harvesting, probably in October this year.

Guy Howard, at Giffords Hall Vineyard, in Hartest, near Bury St Edmunds agreed that 2018 will be a good vintage,

He said: “It is looking to have the potential for a very good wine crop. Vine roots run deep and so a good winter rain is essential and we have had that.

“It follows on from a couple of tough years for winegrowers in the UK, Europe and the world.”

The vineyard has a wine shop, and offers tours by arrangement. They export to Holland and Belgium.

At Wissett, outside Halesworth, wine growers Elaine Heeler and Vanessa Tucker are anticipating a great year. Together they run Valley Farm Vineyard.

Elaine Heeler said: “The weather has been fabulous. It wasn’t a great start to the year but we have caught up.

“Our fruit is looking very healthy because we have had lots of lovely sunshine.

“Our yield will definitely be up, but we will keep our fingers crossed there will be no surprises.”

Their yield last year was eight tonnes, she said, “I hope it will be eight tonnes this harvest.”

Harvesting might begin in late September, she said.

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