Despite their first wine being released just in April of last year, Kent producer Mereworth Wines continue to grow and improve, expanding their winery and embracing new technology in the lead-up to this year’s imminent harvest.
Mereworth Wines have expanded into the central corridor of their Oast, to increase their production and storage space, thereby also freeing up more room for events, following a series of successful pop-up dining experiences hosted at the winery. “It has been an extremely busy few months, getting the works completed in time for this year’s harvest”, owner William Boscawen declares, “but the expansion of the winery gives us more space for our newly increased tank capacity, and extra storage for the increasing collection of vintages maturing to perfection in our cellar.”
Alongside their progress at the winery, the team at ‘Mereworth’ are also looking to the future by embracing a new method of harvesting their grapes this year, turning to machine-harvesting for the first time. Moving away from the quintessentially romantic image of hand-harvesting grapes, ‘Mereworth’ are vocal about the benefits they can explore with this move.
As with all decisions, there are pros and cons between machine-harvesting and hand-harvesting, but the quality of the resulting wine is not one of the defining differences. “There has often been an argument that hand-picking grapes, as we have done with our previous vintages, provides a more artisanal approach to winemaking, with a supposed reputation for higher quality wines” explains Vineyard Manager and Head Winemaker, Scott Gebbie. “In reality, machine-harvesting can produce the same, or even better results, as long as it suits the circumstances of the individual vineyard. Advancements in the technology of harvesting machines have come a long way over the last decade, making them much more gentle and precise in their approach, negating the argument that this method is detrimental to the grapes.”
“This option allows us to choose the optimum time for picking, when the grapes are at perfect maturity, and complete it in a much shorter space of time. We are lucky that our vineyard is a very short distance from our winery, and with this method we receive cool, freshly picked grapes with their quality preserved, which can then be pressed immediately, yielding the highest calibre of wine. When it comes to the crunch, the quality of our wine is always our highest priority. Our method of harvesting is just one of a great number of factors we consider in order to produce the very best of ‘Mereworth’ in each bottle, so we can assure you that in this sense, nothing will change.”
The team at ‘Mereworth’ expect to harvest mid-October this year, dependant on how the sugar and acidity levels in the grapes change with weather between now and then. ‘Mereworth’ planted their vineyards back in 2016, releasing their first traditional method English Sparkling Wine in April of 2020. Their first vintage sold out quickly through their cellar door shop, gaining recognition in world-wide awards. They are now selling their ‘White From White’, a white sparkling wine made entirely from their Chardonnay grapes, and a sparkling ‘Rosé’, made from a blend of their Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, all grown in their vineyard in Wateringbury. Their passion for winemaking also shines through in their range of winemaker’s spirits – MAROURDE Aperitif, and their Harvest and Oak Aged Gins.