THE GRAPE HARVEST HAS ARRIVED EARLY THIS AUTUMN AT CARDEN PARK, WITH THE TEAM BUSY HARVESTING THE DISTINCTIVE SEYVAL GRAPES FROM THE HOTEL’S OWN VINEYARD WITHIN THE 1000 ACRE ESTATE IN THE HEART OF CHESHIRE.
This year’s harvest is set to hit more than 2.5 tonnes which will produce approximately 2200 bottles of wine. The four and a half acre vineyard is now one of Europe’s most northerly commercial vineyards, producing award-winning sparkling white and rose wines known as Carden Old Gold and Carden Old Gold Brut Rose, sold exclusively at the Hotel. Originally planted in 1988 the vineyard was re-established when property entrepreneur Steve Morgan bought the hotel in 2006.
The Seyval Blanc grape was chosen because it is well suited to the British climate and produces a light, nutty and crisp wine. A Pinot Noir variety of red grape is also grown within the vineyard to produce the sparkling rosé wine.
The harvest team are led by Estate Manager and all-round vineyard expert Peter Pattenden who said of the 2016 event:
“Autumn is a really exciting season for us because it takes a great deal of time and energy throughout the year to maintain, monitor and finally harvest these thriving, high-grade grapes. We are so proud of this unique Cheshire product created by our team and we take great pleasure in guests enjoying these fine wines and telling us just how wonderful they taste.”
May to September is the main growing season and the whole team are involved in the growing and harvesting processes, taking a team of approximately 20 people around two days to pick and package the grapes from more than 4,000 vines on the south-west facing slopes. The fruit is then transported to Halfpenny Green Vineyards in Staffordshire, where it is pressed before beginning the fermentation process using champagne yeast in a classic process called “methode champagnois”, which gives the wine its sparkle.
The wine is bottled in spring the following year and matured for a further nine months before the two delicious vintages can finally be purchased. It takes 18 months from picking the grape to producing a wine that is ready to drink.
This year the team will also harvest a number of vines to create a brand new, organic grape juice that will be sold within the award-winning restaurants and bar areas at Carden Park Hotel. This new product will allow those indulging in Sober October and similar health incentives to enjoy the delicious produce of Cheshire’s Country Estate without the alcohol content. This is part of an ongoing ‘grow your own’ programme, with ingredients such as plums and fresh herbs being grown on the Estate and picked by the catering staff for use in restaurant dishes and recipes.
Paul Bayliss, General Manager at Carden Park, Cheshire’s Country Estate, has been enjoying the harvest preparations during his first weeks in post, he added: “This has been an incredibly exciting event for me to share in during my first month here at Carden Park. I know only too well how hard Peter and the team work to keep the vines in top condition and we are keen to share the fruits of their labour by showcasing these impressive wines both regionally and nationally. The team are also excited about the new grape juice and have been busy studying its health benefits, and so we hope this will be of real interest to so many of our health-conscious customers.”
Bottles of both Carden vintages can be purchased for £25 in the hotel’s restaurants and bars or for weddings and celebrations, or from reception as a memento or gift.
To find out more call Carden Park on 01829 731000 or visit www.cardenpark.co.uk
For related features, please pay a visit to our food & drink page.