While the virus has been raging around the world (and doesn’t look like easing up any time soon) perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it has also been a strange year in Burge’s Field Vineyard. Harsh spring frosts in late-April and, three weeks later, in mid-May really hammered the vines, reducing our expected yield for the year from about 80 tonnes to barely 40 tonnes.

The springtime cold was followed by lovely warm, dry weather that the vines relished through June and July. Then we had some tropical-feeling downpours in August that, thanks to the free-draining chalk beneath the vineyard, did no damage to the soil, but the vines were still a little surprised after all that dry.  Thankfully since then it’s been lovely weather for grapes… high September temperatures and gentle drying breezes.

'"...gloomy news on quantity... a silver-lining on quality..."

Beyond reducing the overall yield, another strange effect of the frost damage is that the secondary shoots, the ones that replace the primaries killed by the cold, have produced a few bunches (that are never going to ripen properly) in really strange places... as seen in the line of green bunches on the right in the picture below... unusual.

Pinot Meunier grapes

Despite the gloomy news on quantity there is a bit of a silver-lining on quality because, with a reduced number of bunches per vine, each bunch that has made it should be beautifully ripe with a good ratio of sugars to acids and with very little of the physical crowding that can lead to the dreaded botrytis... So although there may not be much of it, if everything goes to plan and we are vigilant as we pick, the 2020 vintage should be rather wonderful - you'll have to watch out for it in 2024!