Roll Up Your Sleeves for a Morning of Grape Picking at Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens is predicting a bumper 2023 harvest for its Sussex Wine and is inviting wine lovers to participate in the free annual grape picking event in October. Visitors can spend a morning immersed in the winemaking process by hand-harvesting grapes straight from the vineyard.
With a final October date to be announced, subject to harvest conditions, the festivities kick off at 8:00 am with fresh pastries and a choice of tea or coffee to provide fuel for the day ahead. From 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, guests will receive a hands-on education in grape harvesting, gathering grapes from the vines and learning about viticulture from the vineyard experts. It’s satisfying, rewarding work that gives a true taste of life as a winegrower, says Barry Anderson managing director of Leonardslee’s wine operations.
After working up an appetite in the vineyard, participants can relax and refuel. A harvest table lunch featuring light bites will be available from 12:30 pm onward. Guests can also enjoy a glass of sparkling wine from Leonardslee’s sister vineyard, Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate in South Africa.
Prospects for 2023 Vintage
The grapes picked during the event will contribute to the 2023 vintage from the House of Leonardslee vineyard. Planted in 2017 across 37 acres, the estate contains over 85,000 vines and produces sparkling wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The first vintage release is in June 2024.
Leonardslee is anticipating an excellent 2023 harvest. Near perfect weather conditions this season have set the vines up for success. With no frost incidents, flowering progressed smoothly. Careful canopy management ensures good light penetration, while disease control has kept the foliage healthy for ripening the exceptionally large crop.
“The vines are showing great promise this year,” said Barry Anderson. “Bunch numbers are higher than ever thanks to favourable spring weather. Our August and September climate will be crucial for ripening, but I foresee this being a terrific harvest. This is great news in the lead up to our first major wine release in June 2024.”
The UK as a whole is forecasting bumper wine yields in 2023. An estimated 18.5 million bottles will be produced this year amid ideal growing conditions nationwide. While July’s rainfall briefly dampened spirits, it arrived at an opportune time and vineyards are now hoping for sun-filled, dry weather through August and September.
Growth Trends Show Promising Future for English Wine 
In addition to an abundant 2023 harvest, English wine is generally charting an upward trajectory. There are now over 900 vineyards across Great Britain, more than double the 432 recorded in 2017. English wine production has likewise increased rapidly, rising from 5.3 million bottles in 2017 to 12.2 million bottles in 2022.
This ascension is reinforced by mounting global interest. Exports of English wine have grown from just 4% to 7% in recent years. Industry experts predict production could reach 25 million bottles annually by 2032, signifying English wine’s mounting status worldwide.
The future looks bright for English viticulture and Sussex wine, says Barry Anderson: “Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens encourages everyone with an interest in wine to join us in October to find out more and get real hands-on experience during our grape picking event this September.
Please register your interest on the website.
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