Take a 360-degree spin around an English vineyard in this video as Amanda interviews Exton Park vineyard manager Fred Langdale. From the Pinot Noir vineyards of Exton Park overlooking the South Downs, Fred discusses the unique weather pattern from the English Channel combined with the influence of the South Downs. They also discuss the soil profile and how chalk is important for grape growing.
Hampshire has become renowned for its excellent quality English sparkling wine and Exton Park is one of the leading producers on the South Downs. This interview is part of a series of 80 Harvests interviews with English sparkling winemakers and agronomists.
English vineyard interview transcript:
So can you tell us where we are in England?
We are 7 miles as the crow flies north of Portsmouth. We’re on the South Downs which runs from Winchester to Eastbourne. The South Downs weather from the English channel certainly is different to next to the coast than it is here. The South Downs sorts of splits the clouds as it were. Even in Winchester, which is only 10 miles away, the weather pattern there is quite different to what it is here.
So what is the weather?
It’s generally usually cold winters, which is good – I want that for the vineyard anyway. And this year we had a lovely time of flowering, everything flowered in a week or so. But unfortunately at the end of the summer it started cooling down a bit… But the last three years, we’ve had September and October be absolutely beautiful, around 21, 22 degrees Celsius.
Nice! But not this year. But you get a nice breeze and air movement here?
Because we’re quite high up on top of the hill this is one of the most useful things we’ve got is a really good strong wind that’s blowing through the vineyard and drying everything out. So the soil where we’re standing it moment has about four or five inches of top soil which goes straight into pure white chalk, there’s quite a lot of Flint on the on the very top but it’s but it’s
actually not very much of it in the actual subsoil at all.
So when you break further down that’s where you get this more chalky soil?
Yes, in the wintertime the chalk is amazing as it because it completely freezes and the water expands inside and gives each lump of chalk a nice jacket, so you can really see how absorbent it is.
What have you got growing here and when did you harvest? Because you’ve already picked this vineyard?
Yeah, so this vineyard we picked a week or so ago and we were then now I’m just allowing the other grapes to get an extra shot of sun for a bit and then we’re gonna go through them and harvest them again. But this is all Pinot Noir on a south east facing plot, which is where I believe where we get a lot of our rose from. From the the midday sun’s on the side of the vine, so there’s more surface area, more photosynthesis, more energy to the fruit.