As flowering and Wimbledon approach , we look forward to 2015 but before that a quick look back to 2014.
2014 goes down as one of the wettest and warmest years in England ever. Bud-burst was as early as April 2nd for Chardonnay and Rondo here in Kent. This year (2015) it was around the 15th . Spring frosts were not an issue , the frost pots were fired up twice at Hush Heath more as a precaution than in earnest. Flowering was prolific and early starting well before Wimbledon , set was good and it became obvious at this point that there was potential for a very large crop(7t/a+) Interestingly there was a widespread failure in some older GDC vines to produce anything more than a smattering of rather feeble flowers, not quite sure why, possibly low potential from the previous year.
The year continued warm but damp with high disease pressure catching out quite a few growers with Downey and Powdery mildew causing considerable losses up to 50% + and allowing a foot hold for Botrytis .
The size of the crop was beginning to cause problems for growers who had not green harvested or leaf plucked . The weight of the crop meant that the vines struggled to ripen in spite of the warmth and early start. The un -even ripeness problem was most acute in the later ripening sparkling varieties Chardonnay and Pinots , particularly as botrytis threatened . Growers were left with the expensive options of selective picking or picking at barley acceptable low sugars and high acids , or risking botrytis and forlorn hope that a large crop would ripen in the last weeks of October . In the end I would be surprised if half the potential crop in England was actually harvested .