Hopes high for estate’s ‘best-ever vintage’

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LA Mare Wine Estate could be set to bottle its best ever vintage thanks to the exceptional summer weather.

The company is hopeful that the vines at the St Mary operation could produce their best wine yet after benefitting from conditions normally seen in the renowned vineyards of France.

Tim Crowley, La Mare’s managing director, said: ‘The crop is in very good shape. We’d like a little more rain soon but the vines don’t need much.

‘Their roots go very deep below ground so they can find their own water. This could even be our best year ever in terms of flavour.’

He added: ‘Making green decisions 20 years ago means that we’re now benefitting from early thinking. We believe in making hay while the sun shines because it takes seven to ten years from when the vine is planted to when the wine is produced and 20 years from planting an apple tree to producing a bottle of apple brandy.’

Mr Crowley said the company had been saving all its rainwater in three 30,000 litre tanks underground since 2006, enabling it to cut its water consumption by 80%.

He said that the team were now growing more apples than grapes, but that the apples were not benefitting from the dry conditions.

‘The crop will be fine. It will have a more intense flavour than usual because the apples will be smaller and won’t swell as much as usual,’ he explained.

‘They will be a little harder and we will have to store them for a little longer before we press them. It’s a good outcome for the consumer but not as good for the estate as it will increase our costs.’

The vineyard now produces 35 tonnes of grapes and 100 tonnes of apples every year.

Mr Crowley said that interest in artisan cider had grown gradually in recent years and was particularly popular in the summer, when rosé wine also came into its own.

But sparkling wine only accounted for around 10% of the estate’s sales, he said, with rosé the most popular, followed by red wine and then white.

‘We don’t export our products directly at all now because of the high transport costs and complex paperwork involved,’ he said.

‘We took the decision to just make enough for Jersey, which has more than 700,000 visitors a year. We sell lots of different preserves, confectionery and alcohol products to people who visit the vineyard and we have a duty-free shop at the Airport so many of our wines, spirits and biscuits are exported by the visitors themselves who take them home from Jersey when they leave.’

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