Boosting sparkling wine production at Greyfriars

Nine thousands new vines have been planted by Greyfriars Vineyard in Surrey as the company aims to boost its sparkling wine production. The firm, whose vineyards are located in the Guildford area, finished planting at the end of last month (April, 2015) and has now increased its total number of vines to 70,000. Greyfriars’ investment in new plantings reflects the UK’s recent growth in wine production. Figures released this week (May 11, 2015) by the marketing body English Wine Producers (EWP) show that the 2014 harvest broke all industry production records. A total of 47,433 hectolitres were produced last year – the equivalent of 6.3 million bottles (75cl). This represents an increase of 42 per cent in volume over 2013. EWP and United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) also revealed that, according to estimates, at least two-thirds of English production is now sparkling wine.

Greyfriars owner Mike Wagstaff said: “Since 2011 we have planted a total of 53,000 vines on three sites. The vast majority of these [plantings] have been the ‘champagne’ varieties – chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot Meunier. That’s because the main thrust of the business is to make sparkling wine using ‘champagne’ varieties and traditional methods. That’s what most people are planting in England.”

Wagstaff, who sourced the new vines from a German nursery, added that the firm chose high graft vines this time around. He said: “Normally the graft is about one inch above the ground but the high graft is when we graft from about 18 inches above the ground. The practical benefit is that you get fruit a year earlier.”

He added that the firm has also planted a small amount of Pinot Gris and some early-ripening Pinot Noir, to give the firm “some more diversification.” Wagstaff said: “We are about to release our first still Pinot Gris.” He added that the company also grows some Sauvignon Blanc and has made both still and sparkling Sauvignon Blanc wine in small quantities.

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