We are super proud of our West Country heritage here at Lyme Bay Winery, but that doesn’t stop us working with a select band of vineyards across the country to provide us with the highest quality grapes for our award-winning wines – an approach that is perhaps unique amongst English producers.
It’s been a busy time since we last checked in with our growers in Essex.
Over at Martin’s Lane Vineyard in the village of Stow Maries in Essex – partner Roy Martin says if you’re caring for a vineyard, the British obsession with the weather takes on a whole new meaning.
“Spring was a real ‘roller-coaster’ after one of the wettest winters on record, followed by a virtually rainless April with more frosts nationally than ever previously recorded (or so we’re told) and then a cold miserable May”, says Roy, “but thankfully with the glorious entry of June the weather seems to have realised it has time to make up, with wall-to-wall sunshine and higher temperatures making their belated appearance.”
Something that’s always on their side is their location in The Crouch Valley, whose unique microclimate creates some of the best grapes in England. “The steep vineyard slopes and the Crouch Valley tides came to our rescue and allowed us to escape the effects the April frosts”, says Roy, “despite temperatures dropping perhaps a point below zero for a few hours overnight on 7th and 13th April, and many nights in April bumping along just above zero.”
Nonetheless, although the cold weather held back early growth and delayed budburst, Roy adds: “Nature so often has ways of compensating and we remain optimistic that the spurt in growth we are now seeing and the strong developing inflorescences in the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, if rewarded with a long ‘Indian summer’, can still deliver us something special. We are now focussing on the timing of flowering and fruit set in the vineyard for a better idea of whether we have made up the lost ground and to assess the fruit potential for 2021. Fingers crossed!”
A new addition
One of our newest growers in Essex is Missing Gate Vineyard, run by Nick, Ali, Charlie, Olly and Jack Speakman in Bicknacre.
Their 60 acres at the start of the Crouch Valley region are home to around 66,000 vines growing Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Bacchus and a trial plot of four different PIWI fungus-resistant varieties.
“Over the past few weeks three out of five of the Speakman clan have been basking in the sunshine overlooking our vineyard” says Nick, “while the other two have been slaving away on weed control and shoot selection/single shooting.”
Despite this apparent disparity of labour, Nick says there are plenty of reasons to love the job. “Apart from spending more time with the family, it’s great being part of a new venture that is changing the landscape in our small part of Essex”, he says. “We are also really excited in pushing forward with innovation in Viticulture and Oenology, and have plans to expand the vineyard year on year, with 40 acres set to be planted in the Essex clay soil in 2022.”
Why we love Essex
For our part, we love working with our Essex growers because the county’s terroir – the environment in which a vine is grown – creates such special grapes.
“Clay soils hold onto more moisture than lighter soils do, which stops excessive moisture uptake by the grapes in wetter periods”, explains James Lambert, Lyme Bay Winery’s managing director. “The area also has drier autumns than any other region in England, which allows our growers to leave the grapes on the vine for longer without the risk of bunch rot setting in”.
“This extra hanging time enables more sugar accumulation and acidity degradation, as well as the development of flavour compounds, colour compounds and desirable phenolic compounds that are needed for still wines, which grapes harvested at earlier stages of maturity do not possess.”
For Lyme Bay Winery, the result is two tiers of quality English still wines. The first tier is fruit-driven, approachable wines with a versatile palate, produced every year. The second is Lyme Bay Winery’s premium still wines, only produced in vintage years, demonstrating the attention dedicated to nurturing select English still Chardonnay and Pinot noir clones from these first-rate vineyards.
Discounts for English Wine Week 2021
If you fancy tasting the fruits of these carefully grown, harvested and crafted labours, we have a very special offer of a 20% discount across all our Lyme Bay Winery English Wines, running during the whole of English Wine Week.
This year’s English Wine Week runs from 19-27 June 2021, and is a national initiative to raise awareness of English wines and their wide availability across the country. If you’d like to sample some of our best-selling English wines, treat yourself to this extra special discount both online and in our shop.
You can also visit our real world or online Winery shop to take advantage of our English Wine Week discounts, as well by calling our friendly team here at the Winery on 01297 551355 or via email at email@example.com.