Halstead vineyard toasts successful harvest as hottest summer on record doubles yield
The owners of a boutique vineyard in Halstead have toasted a successful harvest, following an exceptional summer.
Jane and Peter Moore, who run Toppesfield Vineyard on Harrow Hill, have seen their yield double, which has been attributed to the hottest summer on record.
“We thought this year’s yield was significantly up on last year,” said Mrs Moore, who noticed a sharp rise in crop yield six weeks ago while leaf-stripping the vines – a technique designed to aid the ripening of grapes.
“It’s an amazing crop,” said the 59-year-old, adding that the vines had become more established since being planted in 2012.
Due to the soaring temperatures throughout June and July, the grapes have ripened approximately 10 days earlier than normal.
The timing of the harvest is a crucial part of the wine-making process.
“One year’s work goes into the crop, but the trick is not to pick too early or too late,” explained Mrs Moore.
The couple harvested grapes from 4,000 vines with the help of 50 family members, friends and volunteers at the weekend.
“Nine-and-a-half tonnes went to the winery, which is absolutely huge and the quality of the grapes was fantastic,” said Mrs Moore.
The harvest has become an annual event, attracting visitors from London.
“Everyone comes together to keep the village alive,” said Mrs Moore.
The couple have full-time jobs, but spend their weekends tending to the vineyard, which came about in 2012, when they brought a plot of agricultural land next to their home.
They were inspired to establish their own vineyard after learning that the site was connected to the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago.
Artefacts from a Roman centurion were discovered on the site in the 1800s, which indicated that it had been planted with vines.
Mrs Moore said it was overwhelming to see the vineyard so established on a site steeped in history.
“Sometimes we pinch ourselves because we don’t believe this is our vineyard,” she said. “ But we have worked really hard.
“We are both workaholics – we love working in London, but we like coming back to the peace and quiet of the countryside.”