Vin­tage year for county’s wine mak­ers

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Sounds Good - by Sarah Mar­shall smar­shall@thek­m­group.co.uk

THIS year is prov­ing an ex­cel­lent year for Kent wine. Yields are up by 15 per cent on 2007 as the sum­mer rain com­bined with late Septem­ber sun has been great for the grapes. “The weather has been fab­u­lous and now we have ev­ery avail­able picker out,” said Tom Jinks from Bid­den­den Vine­yards. For just over a week up to 40 peo­ple a day have been gath­er­ing the Ortega grapes at Bid­den­den Vine­yards. The Ortega, a Ger­man va­ri­ety that makes up about 40 per cent of the vine­yard, is the first grape of the sea­son to ripen. By June or July 2009, bot­tles of the “very fruity off-dry white wine” will be ready to drink. “We’ve been press­ing the grapes im­me­di­ately and so far the qual­ity is looking very good,” said Mr Jinks. The vine­yard has been grow­ing the grape for sev­eral years, and wine mak­ers there are very proud of the ta­bles where it has been served. Mr Jinks said: “We sup­plied it to Brus­sels when it had the Bri­tish pres­i­dency of the EU a cou­ple of years ago and many fa­mous peo­ple, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily, drank it.”

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Bid­den­den Vine­yards’ owner Ju­lian Barnes and mar­ket­ing man­ager Tom Jinks with some this year’s crop

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Emily Cragg with her grape har­vest

Pic­tures Dave Downey pd1490475

Ge­orge and Cyn­thia King pick­ing the grapes at Bid­den­den

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Joe Wen­ham picks the grapes

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