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Kent vineyards ready for grape harvest

Chapel Down
Chapel Down

Chapel Down vineyard at Smallhythe

Winemakers are hoping for two to three weeks of sunshine before they start picking this year’s grapes.

Biddenden Vineyard and Chapel Down at Smallhythe both say they are between one and two weeks behind schedule, partly because of the weather earlier this year.

But until they start picking, they will not know the quality of the grapes.

Vikki Wright, from Biddenden Vineyard, said: “We will begin picking the first week of October.

“Some parts of the vineyard look very promising, but others have not got much fruit.

“We are hoping for some sun over the next couple of weeks to get the quality up.

"We are a couple of weeks behind because of the weather so need to sun to get the sugar levels up – we are at the mercy of the weather.”

In an average year, Biddenden produces 50,000 to 60,000 bottles of wine, but this year is execting the number to be around 40,000.

Guy Tresnan, from Chapel Down, said: “We need the sun to have his hat on.

“It is still too early to make a call on the quality. We have a number of sites and some ripen earlier than others, so we have one to three weeks before we start the proper harvest.

“We were behind earlier this year because of the weather but it has picked up, so we are about a week behind now.”

Mr Tresnan said they expected the yield to be about the same as last year, which was down on the previous year.

In 2011, Chapel Down produced 410 tonnes of grapes and expects to get 1,000 bottles per tonne.

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