Wine Importing and Marketing Services

Spirits and Pressures are High During England’s Sparkling Wine Harvest

Harvesting grapes at Gusbourne / Tyler Zielinski

The hardest and latest vintages are quite often some of the most successful,” says Charlie Holland, head winemaker at Gusbourne in Kent, England. He counts his 2021 crop of sparkling wines among these ranks. “We aren’t scared about this vintage at all, and we think that it’s going to be a good one.”

While Holland is confident in the caliber of the 2021 wines, it was not an easy vintage for winemakers across the U.K. The growing season included one of the country’s wettest and coldest summers in recent years, which caused rain-induced disease pressure and frost risk all the way through May 2021. 

For winemakers across the U.K., the 2021 vintage wasn’t easy / Photo by Tyler Zielinski

“The growing cycle, which was elongated this season, meant that the grapes had an extended hangtime,” says Holland. “This had a huge amount of impact on the flavor intensity of the grapes and wines.” 

These grapes required careful winemaking. 

“Because of this growing season’s conditions, the 2021 wines will have pristine acidity, and it won’t be the ripest vintage, meaning that these wines will likely need a bit of lees aging and time in the cellar to come through,” he says. He likens it to a winemaker’s vintage, saying it will reveal the differences between experienced English wine professionals from their less adept competition.