The 2018 English wine harvest is so enormous that there is not enough space to hold it, astonished wine makers are reporting.
The long hot summer has produced an unprecedented volume of grapes, in what is certain to be the biggest vintage since the English wine industry began to take off thirty years ago.
With the harvest in full swing this month, harassed vineyard owners are having to bring in extra tank capacity, in some cases from abroad.
“Many producers are talking about this being the vintage of the decade, if not in living memory,” according to Charles Simpson, who runs a 90-acre vineyard near Canterbury.
“We’ve been picking grapes non-stop for three weeks – last year we had it all done in five days. It’s such a busy year that we’ve had to import stainless steel tanks from France…there just isn’t the winery space for all of this”.
“This has been the best ever harvest in our 32 years,” said Christopher White, chief executive of the Denbies wine estate near Dorking in Surrey, one of the largest UK wine producers.
“We’ve needed to rent 200,000 extra litres of temporary tank storage …this year has been exceptional and you need to make the most out of it”.
Simon Bladon, whose Hampshire-based Jenkyn Place’s vineyard launched in 2006, said: “This summer, we will have harvested more than in any previous harvest, and what we are picking this week looks the best of all. “Our solution was to hire extra tanks, which became increasingly difficult to find as the harvest progressed, and the size of it became apparent.”
It is the long heatwave of June and July, combined with an exceptionally warm autumn, which has produced such remarkable volumes of grapes and wine. Last year we produced roughly 20,000 bottles,” said Simpson.
“This year it’s more like 120,000. It’s a game changer.”