Chris Cooper and Rob Saunders, vine specialists at Hutchinsons, discuss the season.

As viticulturists gear up for picking, the most exciting time of the year, the Met Office has forecast a warm, bright start for early September – they have been known to be wrong before! 

Most growers will now have exposed fruit bunches to get as much sun onto them as possible (while retaining enough leaf to feed the grapes and vine) and allowing good spray coverage. We are now occasionally finding Downy and Powdery Mildew and Botrytis bunch infections as well as Spotted Wing Drosophila numbers increasing, so it is important to liaise with the agronomist and winemaker regarding product selection, harvest intervals and picking dates so that fruit is delivered in prime condition.

This season has been exciting for us at Hutchinson’s with the launch of our viticultural sundries department dealing with everything from grape scissors to trellis work, innovations such as biofilm, and our sister company Produce Packaging offering a range of items for when the grapes get to the winery. 

“Some customers first encounter your brand in the box it arrives in, particularly when ordered online,” said Jeremy Sharp of Produce Packaging. “A great array of “off the shelf” packaging is widely available including single, twin, three, six and twelve bottle cases. Branded packaging can be developed for five acre vineyards producing 15,000 bottles a year and delivered in as little as six weeks, from concept to packing. With knowledge and experience of Produce Packaging combined with the grower’s desire and vision, your wine can be presented beautifully. We can provide products to enhance and secure your brand and deliver it safely to your customers remembering that sustainability and environmental impact of packaging is now crucially important so all our cases are 100% recyclable.”

At the 2016 Cool Climate Wine Symposium, Charles Spence from Oxford University’s Experimental Psychology department talked about factors influencing the perception and purchase of wine, going beyond taste, encompassing colour, serving temperature, lighting, even the sound of the tasting environment and glassware.  He revealed a surprising correlation – for every £1 increase in the price of a bottle, you get an extra six grammes of glass! – we associate weight with quality!