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2019 Harvest at Off The Line Vineyard

Harvest, the focal point of the year, started on 20 September at Off The Line, the earliest ever. Our early ripening varieties, Rondo and Regent, were the first to be picked with good levels of ripeness and flavour. With the grapes pressed within an hour of picking, the first ferments are bubbling away in the winery as the yeasts we introduced have started to work their magic on the freshly pressed juice. Recent weeks have seen a lot of rain which is often a rather challenging feature of our growing season in England and means that the final phase of grape ripening is slowed. Wet weather increases disease pressure so a balance needs to be struck between ripening the grapes and picking them when healthy. Picking is scheduled to finish in the middle of October. It’s always a joyful occasion when the harvest comes in, the culmination of a lot of hard work and something to be thankful for given the reliance on the right weather conditions.

Overall 2019 has been an average year weather wise. This is despite some really warm weather in June and July. We will be taking in a reasonably good crop both in terms of amount and quality. Our harvest pickers this year have included local people who enjoy working outside and helping pick the best fruit. It’s good to be finding that there are people in the surrounding area willing to do this important work. It does require a reasonable degree of fitness and hardiness but it’s enjoyable and sociable work that requires dedication and skill. We also rely on professional vineyard workers coming from Eastern Europe as do many vineyards in the South East.

Now that Autumn is here, we are closed to visitors except by appointment. Our cellar door and group tour and tasting experience proved to be very popular over the summer months and we welcomed more visitors than ever in 2019 including tourists from oversees specifically coming to the South East to discover English vineyards. Wine tourism is really growing and following on from the boom in English wine making. England is now one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world, a staggering fact. For Off The Line our strength is being a smaller vineyard and winery where we can tailor our tours to each visitor and give the personal touch. We also make wines that are carefully crafted and made to bring out the best of the fruit that we grow ourselves. Visit our website, www.offthelinevineyard.com for further details of where we are and our opening times. You can buy our rosé wines from a number of local stockists and our highly acclaimed Hip rose 2018 from selected branches of Waitrose in Sussex and London and Waitrose Cellar online.