Page 52 - ALG Issue 2 20202
P. 52

East Midlands
Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland
Mr Paul Howgill
37 Meredith Road, Rowley Fields, Leicester LE3 2EP
07803 828 777
Adam Murphy
East Midlands (North) 0845 4786 352
 Welcome to our new members...
Blaby & District Allotments & Gardens Society Blaby Parish Council
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    Harvest at the Derbyshire Mini-Vineyard
As the season progressed it was exciting to see the two-year Phoenix, Regent and Rondo vines set flowers and to watch how these developed into small bunches of grapes, which with Rondo and Regent turned black as the season developed. There has been no evidence of disease (touch wood) and birds and wasps were kept at bay by putting the bunches of grapes in muslin bags. I cleared foliage away so the bunches of grapes could get as much sun as possible.
In mid-October we used a refractometer to measure the sugar content (Brix) and specific gravity of the grape juice, which on 20/10/19 for Phoenix averaged 14% and 1.055, for Regent 16% and 1.06, and for Rondo 15% and 1.058. Since an SG of 1.060 and Brix of 15.2 equates to an alcohol content of only about 8%, these figures show a rather low sugar content and lack of ripeness. They were a bit sour when tasted so we waited until early November before any severe frost, to pick the few grapes available, totalling about 5kg. The wished-for spell of warm October weather to help ripening didn’t materialise sadly. There weren’t
enough white grapes to make white wine separately so white and black grapes were destemmed (to keep the tannin content low) into a sterile bucket and pulped together by my 12-year-old grandson treading them with clean
feet for 10 minutes. The mixed juice Brix was measured again (15%) and sugar was added to bring the alcohol content up to 11.5%. I also tested the pH (3.3) and titratable acidity, which was quite high, so some chalk was added to the must. Natural yeasts in the must were inactivated with Campden tablets (metabisulphite). The must was then left for 24 hours before adding a suitable red wine yeast for three days, plus later, an acid-reducing strain to begin a malolactate fermentation to hopefully reduce sourness. After a couple more days I pressed the must and collected about 3.5 litres of red wine. This is now settling to become the first wine from the mini-vineyard and I’m quite surprised to have had any yield at all this year. In December all the vines will need pruning and the cycle will begin again except that the vines will be stronger and should yield better next year.
In December all the vines will need pruning and the cycle will begin again except that the vines will be stronger and should yield better next year
I have learnt:
1. That Regent has grown better than
Rondo this year so maybe is more suited to the local soil and climate conditions.
2. That pruning is skilful work.
3. That I should probably have looked
around the allotment site for a freer draining half plot on which to start this experiment.
4. Some new words like chaptalising (adding sugar) and Brix.
Finally, if one is going to start such an experimental mini-vineyard at 79-years- old, it is very helpful to have willing family members on hand to help – plus a grandson (or similar) to tread the grapes. Hopefully next year there will be separate buckets of white and black grapes he can get his feet into!
Martin Rumsby
              52 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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