WATCH: Candles warm Hampshire vineyard to guard against frost
Hundreds of candles have been lit to help prevent the grapes at a Hampshire vineyard from succumbing to the unseasonable frost experienced around the country.
The Leckford Estate vineyard, which produces 30,000 bottles of sparkling wine for Waitrose each year, took the unusual step to protect their crops from the plummeting temperatures.
The 750 candles are used to raise the temperature at the level of the vine canopy because a drop to -1 degree celsius after bud-break in the springtime could lead to serious injury to the young shoots.
This would put in jeopardy the 2017 vintage which will go on sale from 2020.
Andrew Hoad, head of Leckford Estate, said: ‘This is a crucial time of year for our vines as they come into bud.
‘During this recent cold snap we will carefully monitor overnight temperatures and if they drop below freezing we will light 750 candles to protect this early growth of our vines.
‘This is the first year we have lit the candles on consecutive nights - as well as doing a vital job, it provides a spectacular display.’
The Leckford Brut sparkling wine is a soft blend containing 55 per cent chardonnay grape, 25 per cent pinot noir and 20 per cent pinot meunier.
Wine critics have described it as having the aromas of toasted brioche and hazelnuts with peach and citrus flavours.
The 4.7 hectare Leckford vineyard, near Stockbridge, north-west of Winchester, was planted in 2009 and the first harvest was taken in 2011 to make 2,500 bottles of sparkling white wine with the 2012 vintage currently on sale.
The harvests have since increased with 57 tonnes of grapes gathered in 2014, creating nearly 38,000 bottles.