Bertie the dog has been hired by Hampshire’s Jenkyn Place Vineyard to rid its beautiful vineyards of rabbits
And it’s only just in time.
As the vineyard team today knuckles down to plant a further 2000 Pinot Noir vines, Bertie has been equipped with a new high viz jacket to deter the furry four legs from infringing on his grassy manor.
Camilla Bladon, whose family owns and manages the Jenkyn Place vineyard comments:
“These furry four legs can be a real problem. Rabbits looks cuddly and innocent, but they can ravage young rootstock and destroy their future health. Bertie’s job is to send them scurrying home with their tails between their legs. And, here in Britain, tall legged pheasants can be just as bad with our grapes, especially when they are just ready for harvest in July and August. It can cost the English wine industry hundreds of thousands of pounds in a bad year.”
In the south of France, winemaker Katie Jones of Domaine Jones – but originally from Ashby de la Zouch – agrees:
“For us, wild boar are the problem, and they can do 100% damage to a crop if they break into a vineyard just before harvest. All of our ‘sensitive’ early-ripening vineyards of Muscat or Syrah grapes are double fenced with a permanent fence and then an electric fence. And during the growing season, around 15% of production is lost as they damage shoots, or eating buds and leaves in very dry years.”
For Hampshire’s Jenkyn Place, it will be three years before the 2 acres of new Pinot Noir vines are in full production, adding to the vineyard’s existing twelve acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir first planted on this former hop farm in 2004. The new acreage will take the vineyard’s potential yield from 35,000 to 40,000 bottles a year.
Jenkyn Place is on sheltered, chalky, south-facing slopes, 100m above sea level and well loved by itinerant rabbits. The soil is greensand over marlstone which is perfect for growing the Champagne grape varieties. The vineyards’ greensand is influenced by chalk and this has the benefit of both worlds, the sand and the chalk. The chalk is on the slopes above it, and the chalk run off acts like a seasoning for the greensand, with traces adding nutrients to the vines. The greensand is one metre thick and sits over the marlstone, and is very free draining.
Jenkyn Place makes only sparkling wines: a Jenkyn Place Brut (ie dry) blend of all three grapes; a Blanc de Noirs made from gently squashing the two red grapes – Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – so that the resultant juice is still as clear as clear; and a new Jenkyn Place Rosé made from a blend Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Jenkyn Place Brut is available from Waitrose Cellar, direct from https://www.jenkynplace.com, or locally through Hawkins Bros in Milford (www.hawkinsbros.co.uk) or https://countrymarket.co.uk of Bordon