Welcome to the Denbies vineyard blog.
My name is Oliver Whitfield and I have taken over the role of Vineyard Manager here at Denbies. It is my job to produce the best fruit possible for the winemaking team. If you are ever about the vineyard, you may see me out in my pickup truck, tractor or just walking the vines. I will probably be accompanied by my little Jack Russell, Wilson.
I have over 12 years’ experience in vineyards and wineries and also studied Wine Production at Plumpton College in Sussex. My experience ranges from working huge vintages in New Zealand to working small premium harvests in England. My most recent position was Vineyard Manager at Langham Wine Estate in Dorset.
My philosophy has always been that you can’t make good wine without good grapes. I have been asked to revive the vineyard blog and this is my first attempt. I shall try to keep it updated but cannot guarantee I wont miss a few bits with the madness of harvest and other busy periods.
This year so far:
It’s very dry. We have had very little rain and the hottest temperatures on record. Despite this, our vines are doing very well and producing a good amount of fruit. Fortunately for us the substructure of the soil contains chalk, as well as being very free draining, it holds a lot of moisture in its micro pores. The vines have large root systems and are able to access this. Even the young vines, planted in May, have been able to access water but there is a plan to give them a little drink in the coming weeks.
Flowering this year was a great success. With the dry weather our vines flew through the flowering process into fruit set. It looks like we are going to have a bumper crop if we can stave off the dreaded powdery mildew. Even with the dry weather, this disease is still able to attack our potential crop and the whole vineyard team are working tirelessly to increase airflow and keep the vines defences up.
The next stage for berry development is Veraison. This is where the grapes start to change from hard, acidic balls to juicy, sweet berries. If you’re walking our many footpaths, keep an eye out for this process over the next month.