£10m down the drain as Nyetimber wine crop scrapped

The Argus: £10m down the drain as Nyetimber wine crop scrapped £10m down the drain as Nyetimber wine crop scrapped

Sussex's award-winning vineyards have been devastated by this year’s freak weather.

Nyetimber Vineyard in West Chiltington has scrapped its 2012 vintage of around 400,000 bottles because of the poor quality of the grapes.

The sparkling wine, selected by the Queen for her Golden Jubilee, fetches in excess of £25 per bottle, meaning the loss of £10m of sparking wine.

And producers from Ridgeview, Ditchling, told The Argus that their autumn harvest was down 50% on previous years.

Nyetimber, near Pulborough, has blamed “unusually poor” weather conditions for the decision – the first of its kind in its 24- year history.

The 430-acre site is England’s biggest wine estate and boasts stock in prestigious outlets such as Harvey Nichols, Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Maze and Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen.

Britain’s worst drought in more than 30 years, followed by the wettest June since records began, meant grape quality at Nyetimber was severely reduced.

Sixty full-time staff were told on Tuesday that the 2012 harvest did not meet the required standard.

Cherie Spriggs, Nyetimber winemaker, said maintaining quality was paramount and the decision to cancel the crop had been a difficult one.

She added: “My first obligation as the winemaker is to ensure the quality of Nyetimber’s wines, and we have collectively come to the decision that the grapes from 2012 cannot deliver the standards we have achieved in the past and will again in the future.”

Chris Foss, chairman of the South East Vineyards Association and head of the wine department at Plumpton College, said: “Nyetimber are trying to produce a premium product with a great reputation.

“In order to do that you mustn’t cut any corners. That’s their policy. If you’re trying to produce wine that sells for anything up to £50 a bottle, then it has to be up to scratch.

“Generally speaking it’s been a tough year for the Sparkling producers.

“Also bear in mind that the area which they’re operating in is a particularly weather-affected area.

“We bought grapes from Essex where it’s been relatively OK. Kent has been not too bad and has had some decent crops. The further west you go the more troublesome it becomes.”

Mike Roberts, of Ridgeview Estate Winery in Ditchling, confirmed it is forecasting a harvest which could be just under 50% of its three-year average, which based on its bottling figures from 2010 would mean 125,000 fewer units.

He said: “We at Ridgeview and our dedicated partner growers really do grow hand-crafted grapes, looking after our vines with great care and attention.

“The result is, even in a poor growing season, that very good grapes can be carefully picked.”

A spokesperson for Nyetimber said this year’s weather conditions were unprecedented and there was nothing they could do to try to prevent the same scenario next year.

They added: “It’s been a difficult few months for the staff and we are feeling quite sad, but generally this year has been a fantastic year for us.

“Sales are good and the Queen even had our wine on her barge going up the Thames. Despite the difficult decision, we are feeling optimistic for next year and are really excited about carrying on.”

Comments (13)

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9:06am Thu 11 Oct 12

Frank28 says...

You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.
You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France. Frank28

9:15am Thu 11 Oct 12

Morpheus says...

Frank28 wrote:
You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.
It isn't described as champagne.
[quote][p][bold]Frank28[/bold] wrote: You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.[/p][/quote]It isn't described as champagne. Morpheus

9:30am Thu 11 Oct 12

Laserluke says...

This is why we need to support our local vineyards even more through these difficult periods. We are lucky in Sussex to have three world class and award winning sparkling wine producers in Bolney, Ridgeview and Nyetimber. Better than your average Champagne.
This is why we need to support our local vineyards even more through these difficult periods. We are lucky in Sussex to have three world class and award winning sparkling wine producers in Bolney, Ridgeview and Nyetimber. Better than your average Champagne. Laserluke

10:09am Thu 11 Oct 12

GIVE UP says...

Frank 29...did you read the story,me think not
Frank 29...did you read the story,me think not GIVE UP

10:13am Thu 11 Oct 12

spa301 says...

Unfortunate news for this top quality producer. Let's hope they come roaring back in 2013.
Unfortunate news for this top quality producer. Let's hope they come roaring back in 2013. spa301

10:55am Thu 11 Oct 12

Goldenwight says...

Frank28 wrote:
You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.
Unless it is produced in the USA, since the USA didn't sign the Versailles Peace Treaty which re-affirmed the right to use the name.

All weather dependent industries are liable to good and bad years, my only surprise is that they have survived 23 years without problems so far.
[quote][p][bold]Frank28[/bold] wrote: You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.[/p][/quote]Unless it is produced in the USA, since the USA didn't sign the Versailles Peace Treaty which re-affirmed the right to use the name. All weather dependent industries are liable to good and bad years, my only surprise is that they have survived 23 years without problems so far. Goldenwight

10:57am Thu 11 Oct 12

John Fallon says...

It is described as champagne at the end of the third paragraph but who cares. Anyone who has drunk Nytimber knows it's the equal of most Champagnes and a darn sight better than most.
It is described as champagne at the end of the third paragraph but who cares. Anyone who has drunk Nytimber knows it's the equal of most Champagnes and a darn sight better than most. John Fallon

11:22am Thu 11 Oct 12

John Fallon says...

Tx for the correction. Shame all the comments got wiped out in the process but that's the way it (or they) go.

Hope Nyetimber have perfect weather next year to produce more of their excellent sparkling wine made using the methode champaignoise.
Tx for the correction. Shame all the comments got wiped out in the process but that's the way it (or they) go. Hope Nyetimber have perfect weather next year to produce more of their excellent sparkling wine made using the methode champaignoise. John Fallon

11:23am Thu 11 Oct 12

John Fallon says...

Oops. Scrub that. They're back again!
Oops. Scrub that. They're back again! John Fallon

12:12pm Thu 11 Oct 12

Archie Bun says...

I had Californian Champagne. It wasn't very nice. I did raise issue with using that name, but after Googling it was apparently fine.

The name really conjures up snobbery though. Nothing whrong with a good Cava or Prosecco.
I had Californian Champagne. It wasn't very nice. I did raise issue with using that name, but after Googling it was apparently fine. The name really conjures up snobbery though. Nothing whrong with a good Cava or Prosecco. Archie Bun

1:58pm Thu 11 Oct 12

F in L says...

Nyetimber make a truly World Cass wine and I wish them every success for the future, I shall be buying more of it that is for sure.
Nyetimber make a truly World Cass wine and I wish them every success for the future, I shall be buying more of it that is for sure. F in L

2:00pm Thu 11 Oct 12

MuammarQaddafi says...

Goldenwight wrote:
Frank28 wrote:
You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.
Unless it is produced in the USA, since the USA didn't sign the Versailles Peace Treaty which re-affirmed the right to use the name.

All weather dependent industries are liable to good and bad years, my only surprise is that they have survived 23 years without problems so far.
Interestingly, it's only in the last twenty to thirty years that sparking white wine has been labelled as 'Champagne' in the USA. When I was there in the 1970s, sparkling white wine was called (and labelled) "Cold Duck," for reasons I could never fathom.
[quote][p][bold]Goldenwight[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Frank28[/bold] wrote: You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.[/p][/quote]Unless it is produced in the USA, since the USA didn't sign the Versailles Peace Treaty which re-affirmed the right to use the name. All weather dependent industries are liable to good and bad years, my only surprise is that they have survived 23 years without problems so far.[/p][/quote]Interestingly, it's only in the last twenty to thirty years that sparking white wine has been labelled as 'Champagne' in the USA. When I was there in the 1970s, sparkling white wine was called (and labelled) "Cold Duck," for reasons I could never fathom. MuammarQaddafi

11:04pm Thu 11 Oct 12

John Steed says...

Frank28 wrote:
You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.
I have had the dubious pleasure of quaffing quite a lot of east european sparkling wines described as quoted above also some russian attempts as well, the good news was in all cases it was exceptionally cheap and often free, the bad news is I cant remember the bad news the liquid was so potent. now that reminds of some spanish sparkling tat on ibiza but thats another story
[quote][p][bold]Frank28[/bold] wrote: You can describe the sparkling wine as Bottle Fermented, or Methode Traditionelle - but Champagne is highly protected, and only refers to wines produced in the Champagne region of France.[/p][/quote]I have had the dubious pleasure of quaffing quite a lot of east european sparkling wines described as quoted above also some russian attempts as well, the good news was in all cases it was exceptionally cheap and often free, the bad news is I cant remember the bad news the liquid was so potent. now that reminds of some spanish sparkling tat on ibiza but thats another story John Steed

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