On the cusp of vintage (in Portugal but not in Sheffield)

An inauspicious day for some, but thankfully we are on the cusp of vintage. The weather has been kind (although a shower of rain would have been welcome) and the thunderstorms threatened this weekend seem unlikely to materialise. We will begin by picking the young vines on Monday, starting with Aragonez, then Syrah / Viognier followed by Touriga Nacional. The only problem I face is that due to the funeral of a close family friend in Wales next Wednesday, I am stuck in distinctly autumnal North Derbyshire. I did however visit a local vineyard last week. Whirlow Hall Farm on the outskirts of Sheffield have about an acre and a half of vines, planted three years ago on a south facing slope. At an altitude of about 800 feet, they claim to be the highest vineyard in the British Isles. The grape varieties have been selected for the distinctly cool Pennine climate (Rondo, Solaris, Ortega and Siegerrebe – if my memory serves me correctly) but they are still a long way from ripening. Most of the wines are well established with plenty of vegetative growth (too much in some cases) but it is going to be a race against time to get these grapes ripe before winter sets in. In the meantime the thermometer in Portugal hovers around 30oC with temperatures in the mid-twenties forecast for the middle of next week. Perfect vintage weather there if not here!