It seems odd to be sitting inside, squinting at a screen on the “hottest day of the year so far” (June 13th, 26° C – Humidity high – very stickilly high) and getting all nostalgic as we search through ten years of photographs of our Mayfield vineyards for this website.
And it’s not just me that’s steaming. Up at Lakestreet our contractors are sitting in the shade pondering on life, the universe and a bust gearbox on the spreader.
We’ve been working hard since the wettest winter forever (well: since 1910 when records began) to help our vineyards recover from the drenching rains.
Our measured winter rainfall notched up an almost incomprehensible +265% above the average for this part of the Weald.
Everything was supersaturated. Our newly dug ditches filled, first with rain and then with silt and now need digging out again before autumn. The fields lay wet. Run-off water cascaded down the hills and the ponds brimmed over. Rainwater sloshed about everywhere. It left the land compacted, walking on it just made it worse. Time to put some goodness back into the ground.
We’ve spent the past two days adding rich organic compost to the vineyard at the daunting rate of over 35 T per hectare. Tons and tons of the stuff, dropped off, scooped up and spread in an even layer across vines and alleyways alike. If that doesn’t give the land a boost, nothing will.
There’s one more day’s work to do – so steaming piles of compost block a headland and the team sit patiently, waiting for instructions from their manager, the engineer lolling, hands still, with his phone balanced on his knee. Dan, the driver equally stationary. Eventually the decision comes: tow the spreader back to the yard for immediate surgery. The lads depart; they’ll be back on Monday to finish the job.
It feels like it’s just in time, after this years’ warm spring the vines are growing vigorously, there’s a good promise of fruit to come so long as it stays dry. Pollination usually comes about the same time as the great English summer events: Ascot and Wimbledon, which tells you something. The one thing we don’t want whilst the pollen is drifting through the canopies is rain. Rain washes the pollen grains off the vines and away. So fingers crossed for dry days ahead as we edge into summer proper.