Winemakers on the historic Nyetimber estate in West Sussex began the grape harvest today, more than three weeks earlier than usual, as the warmest summer on record brings in an expected record harvest for the leading English Sparkling Wine producer.
Nyetimber hopes to harvest enough grapes to produce 1 million bottles, a first for any solely English Sparkling Wine producer, at its state-of-the-art pressing facility in West Sussex. The joint hottest summer on record since 1976, combined with ideal rainfall, has created the perfect conditions for the vines on Nyetimber’s estate-owned vineyards in West Sussex, Hampshire and Kent.
The grapes from this year’s harvest will be processed at Nyetimber’s new £9m pressing facility on its historic estate, parts of which date back 1086, near West Chiltington in West Sussex. The state-of-the-art facility uses both the latest technology, as well as traditional gravity-feed to handle grapes and juice – destined for Nyetimber sparkling wines – in the gentlest possible way.
Sparkling wine currently accounts for 66% of all English and Welsh wine produced, while HMRC figures show that 3.86 million bottles of sparkling and still wine made in UK vineyards were released for sale in 2017. It is expected the area under vine to reach over 3,000 hectares by 2020 from 2200 hectares currently, according to the Wine and Spirits Trade Association’s 2018 Wine Report.
Owner and Chief Executive Eric Heerema said: “Nyetimber has been on a remarkable journey, growing 20-fold in just over a decade. At Nyetimber we are committed to excellence and quality, and our overall vision is to create a brand that will be here for generations to come. Today marks the beginning of what I hope will be our best harvest yet, an important milestone for English Sparkling wine which is well on its way to becoming the finest in the world.”
“Overseeing every detail of the harvest for the past 11 years will be our Head Winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, so we are in great hands. Cherie recently became the first person outside the Champagne region, and the first female to be awarded Sparkling Winemaker of the Year, at the prestigious International Wine Challenge, but this is just the beginning for Nyetimber.”
Head Winemaker Cherie Spriggs said: “We are very excited about this year’s harvest following ideal conditions over the past few months. English sparkling wine is reaching new heights – the fact that Nyetimber is at the forefront of this growth is a testament to our passion and commitment to excellence.”