Micky helps with the harvest at Everflyht Vineyard
Wildhive Bar Manager, Micky and his partner Heather headed off to the chalk downs in Sussex, to lend a hand in the final part of the harvest at Everflyht vineyard.
A welcome visit to Everflyht
We were welcomed to the Estate by owners Sam and Ben Ellis and then spent the day working alongside the Murmaration Club, a collection of local wine enthusiasts who have an interest in how their local land is being used. A lot of the land in Sussex is being bought up to grow grapes, with some businesses more interested in looking after the land than others.
Happily, Everflyht is a winery that stands out for their eagerness to equally develop award winning wine (5 Silver Medals this year for their inaugural Brut alone) whilst supporting biodiversity.
This is very much inline with Wildhive's ethos. Sam also has local connections to Ashbourne in Derbyshire as her parents are settled nearby.
Wildhive have pleasure in serving Everflhyt Brut NV and the Rosé de Saignée 2020.
Harvesting the grapes
The task at hand was to harvest the last of the Chardonnay grapes, of which this year there has been a bumper crop! We were provided with a bucket and a pair of snips and told to cut the bunches as close to the grapes as possible, leaving little or no stalk. Rotten grapes needed to be flicked out to ensure these would not spoil the wine.
We made very good progress in the bright autumn sunshine. Sam explained that when the grapes have been harvested the vine goes to sleep for the winter, with the leaves turning brown almost instantly. This means that Sam can visibly see the progress made from the harvesters each day from her window.
We were rewarded for our hard work with a glass of sparkling and local charcuterie in their new tasting room, an open space used for events with a bar fashioned out of a solid polished piece of oak which was salvaged from the grounds.
We have been invited back to experience their winter pruning event, apparently not so easy as just nipping the grapes!
notes from the vineyard manager, everflyht
This is my 9th vintage and I’ve still not seen a vintage the same, which is something that makes the English wine region so fascinating – and challenging!
It has been a very unusual year for the vineyard. The start of the season was one of the best with little or no frost during April and May. This created a slightly delayed bud burst, so where the vines would lose some of the primary buds, none were lost. Instead, the primary buds were laden with two clusters due to the exceptionally warm temperatures in 2022. June into July were dry and warm producing the best and fastest flowering period in the 12 year history of the vineyard.
Then in July the season changed and became cold and wet. This continued into August and what had looked like a great vintage at the start of July, was soon turning into one of the hardest.
By mid August it was clear that Everflyht had its largest crop on record but if the weather didn't improve, the vineyard would have to drop 30-40% on the floor to help the remaining fruit ripen.
But then came the September heatwave and the large bunches of grapes across the Estate started to flourish producing pinks and reds and blacks as the Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier change from green to black.
The name ‘Everflyht’ is inspired by the six Martlets of the Sussex crest symbolising knowledge, adventure, and learning. Said to never land, these birds are ‘ever in flight’.
The Ellis family started their journey into the world of English Sparkling Wine over 10 years ago after a visit to the Napa Valley. Everflyht has concentrated on planting and nurturing the classic sparkling grape varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. This single estate vineyard is nestled at the foot of Ditchling Beacon in the heart of the South Downs National Park.
Unique in its aspect; individual terroir and microclimate, the vineyard has been planted with an extensive range of cover crops between the vines to promote insect and pollinators and the soil is managed to increase organic matter which helps restore biodiversity and sequester carbon. All grapes are grown at Everflyht vineyard.
Find out more about Everflyht wines, seasonal tasting days and harvesting events.