English wine is gearing up for an “exciting year”, according to Kent winery Balfour Winery, near Tonbridge, winemaker due to hot and dry weather

A wine producer says he is celebrating the warm weather as it could lead to “a really exciting year”.

Fergus Elias, head winemaker at Balfour Winery, Tonbridge, says warmer temperatures appear to be having a positive impact on grape production for next year’s vintage.

He explained how hot, dry and arid conditions, like those in southern France or Italy, can lead to better quality wine.

He said: “I think we’re going to have a really exciting year, in terms of quality.

“When you think about a harvest, the components of yield, 60% of your harvest is fixed in the previous year.

“Last year was not a particularly good year. It was quite wet, quite cold and not very exciting at any time.

“As a result, this year’s output is actually quite low, but what this fabulous weather does is make sure the quality of it is going to be through the roof.”

Fergus Elias, Head Winemaker at Balfour Winery

Next spring, customers should be able to notice the differences the hot, dry weather can have in each bottle.

Fergus estimates that half a million bottles will be produced.

He said: “You will have a marked change in weight. So how the wine will feel in your mouth, it will feel heavier. And that’s because the alcohol level will be higher. I would expect that our natural spirits are higher this year than they were last year.

Vineyards at Balfour Winery, Tonbridge.  Photo: Balfour Vineyard
Vineyards at Balfour Winery, Tonbridge. Photo: Balfour Vineyard

“The acid profile will have changed, so it would soften slightly because again the acids should be lower, theoretically. The sugars will be higher and this year the acids will be low, which will make a pronounced difference in the taste of the wine.

Fergus explained how climate change has both positive and negative effects on wineries and recognizes the dangers of extreme weather outside of his industry.

He said: “This warm weather is good for all the grapes combined.

The winemaker says the hot, dry weather could lead to better <a class=wines. Archival photo” data-root=”/_media/img/” data-path=”TPD7LWUEW5WC2B0YTKNS.jpg” data-ar=”1.50″/>
The winemaker says the hot, dry weather could lead to better wines. Archival photo

“From all other points of view it’s obviously slightly concerning, but for us we’re quite happy. I think the quality is going to be very high. We’ve had the best chance of making some really interesting wines.

“We are one of the few industries that likes climate change, but we also have risk factors. Theoretically we will get riper fruit, but climate change has also widened the frost window.

“You used to come in at the end of April and you were pretty safe. You probably weren’t going to get spring frosts after that.

“If you have a spring frost, when the vines burst, it can be deadly. It can end your year on the spot. So that’s problematic.”

About Michael Brafford

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