Last year we made wine for the first time from our three vines, but the cool, wet 2008 season produced a less than vintage crop of grapes. Sugar levels were pretty low, and we were forced to add quite a bit of sugar to the juice to help achieve the alcohol levels required for a wine which would keep well.
This years crop is slightly smaller than the bumper 2008 harvest, not helped by the problems we had earlier in the year with Wasps. Most of the crop has come from the slightly later ripening Regent variety, the Rondo being particularly badly hit by Wasp damage. But whilst yields are certainly down, the good news is that the all important sugar levels are proving to be much higher. This years grape juice is showing a specific gravity of 1080, and should only need a small addition of sugar to help boost the finished alcohol level to the 12% required for red wine.
We'll be harvesting cider apples, perry pears and local fruit over the next few weeks, and I'm really looking forward to dipping my hydrometer into some more juice as the pressing season continues. After the last few poor Summers, we're long overdue a truly 'Vintage' season for our ciders and perrys, and the signs are looking good that this year could be a very good one indeed.