The vines are fat with grapes, full and sweet and juicy and just ten days from pickable perfection. But, just as the finishing post is almost touchable, the spectre of early Autumn frosts has appeared.
Our plucky Frost Warriors were out in the vineyard at 5.30 on Monday morning and again until 2 on Tuesday morning lighting candles. It seems to have done the trick because the thermometer in row 135 dropped to 0.2C and no lower, yet on my way back to bed the roadside verges were rimed with frost and parts of rural Hampshire got down to -2C…
-2C doesn't sound too cold, but even an hour of it in the vineyard and the glorious 2018 growing season would have come to nothing - frozen grapes need picking within hours and we would barely have been able to harvest 10% of what is out there.
You'd spend all night watching the flames if you weren't so cold!