The last blog piece written about the progress of my vines through the 2017 season lamented the less than stunning weather seen in August and hoped for a warmer September to compensate.
Any summer renaissance however (which was promised by several forecasters) never materialised and we are now fully in to the cooler temperatures and visibly shorter days of autumn.
Here’s an update as to how things are progressing in the final run up to the harvest.
Furthest along in terms of maturity, this variety is there or thereabouts ready for picking. The leaves are already starting to change colour to autumnal brown, and I measured the Brix level of the grapes as 19 (giving a potential alcohol of 10.8%).
As a short explanation for those not familiar with growing/picking grapes, a refractometer is an essential tool for a winemaker. You simply squeeze a small amount of the grape’s juice on to the clear end plate, seal it in and look through the viewing lens. As light refracts through the trapped juice, the angle of refraction measures the volume of sugars present, ergo the potential alcohol.
10.8% potential alcohol is fair for a white wine produced in the southern UK climate. 11.5% would be perfect so I’ll try to hang on just a little bit longer for now.
Probably about 2-3 weeks behind my Ortega is my Chardonnay, with a current Brix level of 16 (potential alcohol of 8.8%). The leaves here have also just started to change colour but, unlike my Ortega, the last couple of weeks have seen the vine continuing to grow, not so much in length/height, but in density.
As mentioned last month I have seen a very poor yield this year. This last week has seen veraison (the changing colour of the berries) start to kick in, but the Brix is still tracking at a lowly 11, which is not even on the conversion chart!
You would expect a red grape to be trailing behind the whites, and this one looks like it will need every single remaining day of the harvest if the poorer crop is to come to anything at all.
Summing up, there is once again a slight resurgence in the temperatures forecasted for next week but, as this change has been on the horizon for a good few weeks now, I will believe it when I see it.