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Keep the vine fires burning!

Workers on a vineyard inside the Duke of Northumberland’s Albury Estate lit hundreds of candles to stop frost destroying new buds as temperatures neared freezing early this morning.  

As the mercury fell to almost freezing across the Albury Vineyard in Surrey, more than 800 candles were lit among the budding fruit in an effort to prevent frosts from settling and destroying the harvest. 

Paraffin wax candles in pots, known as bougies, warmed the 20,000 budding vines to protect them from cool air, which threatens the fruit early in the growing season on cold clear nights in the English climate. 

The mesmerising photographs, taken on the southern slopes of the North Downs within the Duke of Northumberland’s Albury Estate, captured the work of vineyard owner Nick Wenman and two others as they worked through the night to light hundreds of candles placed between the vines.

Mr Wenman, who planted the 12-acre vineyard upon his retirement in 2009, was alerted by a weather station to the falling temperatures at 12.30am this morning, and set to work warming the air around the vines to keep it above freezing.

Pictured: The sun rises over the Albury Vineyard in Surrey after workers rushed to light 800 candles to keep temperatures near the vines above freezing

Pictured: The sun rises over the Albury Vineyard in Surrey after workers rushed to light 800 candles to keep temperatures near the vines above freezing

Pictured: The sun rises over the Albury Vineyard in Surrey after workers rushed to light 800 candles to keep temperatures near the vines above freezing

As temperatures dropped to almost freezing across the Albury Vineyard last night (pictured), more than 800 candles were lit among the budding fruit in an effort to prevent frosts from destroying the harvest

As temperatures dropped to almost freezing across the Albury Vineyard last night (pictured), more than 800 candles were lit among the budding fruit in an effort to prevent frosts from destroying the harvest

As temperatures dropped to almost freezing across the Albury Vineyard last night (pictured), more than 800 candles were lit among the budding fruit in an effort to prevent frosts from destroying the harvest

Paraffin wax candles in pots, known as bougies, (pictured) warmed the budding vines to protect them from frosts, which threaten the fruit early in the growing season on cold clear nights in the English climate

Paraffin wax candles in pots, known as bougies, (pictured) warmed the budding vines to protect them from frosts, which threaten the fruit early in the growing season on cold clear nights in the English climate

Paraffin wax candles in pots, known as bougies, (pictured) warmed the budding vines to protect them from frosts, which threaten the fruit early in the growing season on cold clear nights in the English climate

Temperatures approached freezing in Surrey overnight, with Wisley, between Cobham and Woking, recording a low of 0.5C ahead of an anticipated 71F (22C) weekend.

Elsewhere in Britain, Northern Ireland reported its coldest May temperature since 1967 in Katesbridge, County Down, while England saw temperatures plunge as low as -4.6C in Cumbria ahead of the warmer weekend.

For those at Albury Vineyard, the warmer spring weather will be welcomed, as staff members were awake from midnight until daybreak protecting their crop from air frosts which could be ‘devastating’ for the harvest. 

‘We had about 800 candles alight last night, and we lit those in around two hours. But obviously different parts of the vineyard get colder at different times so we work on the part that gets coldest first,’ Mr Wenman told MailOnline. 

‘I got a call at 12.30am and we probably started lighting soon after 1am, but we had to wait until sunrise to put them out.

The mesmerising photographs, taken on the southern slopes of the North Downs in Duke of Northumberland's Albury Estate, captured the work of vineyard owner Nick Wenman and two others as they rushed to light candles placed between the vines

The mesmerising photographs, taken on the southern slopes of the North Downs in Duke of Northumberland's Albury Estate, captured the work of vineyard owner Nick Wenman and two others as they rushed to light candles placed between the vines

The mesmerising photographs, taken on the southern slopes of the North Downs in Duke of Northumberland’s Albury Estate, captured the work of vineyard owner Nick Wenman and two others as they rushed to light candles placed between the vines

Pictured: Candles lit between vines at the Albury Vineyard in Surrey, as workers battle to keep temperatures above freezing

Pictured: Candles lit between vines at the Albury Vineyard in Surrey, as workers battle to keep temperatures above freezing

Pictured: Candles lit between vines at the Albury Vineyard in Surrey, as workers battle to keep temperatures above freezing

Staff members were awake from midnight until daybreak this morning protecting their crop from air frosts which could be 'devastating' for the harvest

Staff members were awake from midnight until daybreak this morning protecting their crop from air frosts which could be 'devastating' for the harvest

Staff members were awake from midnight until daybreak this morning protecting their crop from air frosts which could be ‘devastating’ for the harvest

‘Sometimes it gets a bit colder as sunrise happens because sometimes you get a dip in temperature so you have to leave them until the sun comes up.’  

He explained that the budding fruit can be damaged when temperatures hit -1C, so those on the family-run vineyard attempt to keep the air around the vines above 0C.

‘When it gets to 1C the weather station on the vineyard sends a message telling us to “get out there”, and we have a heat map which shows us the dips in temperature,’ Mr Wenman added.

‘At this time of year the vines are well developed, but what you’re trying to do is prevent the tips being burned because it stops them from growing.

‘It doesn’t happen every year but this is a critical time because if the buds get damaged, you get secondary buds but they’re not as fruitful and are more difficult to ripen.’ 

Temperatures approached freezing in Surrey overnight, with Wisley, between Cobham and Woking, recording a low of 0.5C ahead of an anticipated 71F (22C) weekend

Temperatures approached freezing in Surrey overnight, with Wisley, between Cobham and Woking, recording a low of 0.5C ahead of an anticipated 71F (22C) weekend

Temperatures approached freezing in Surrey overnight, with Wisley, between Cobham and Woking, recording a low of 0.5C ahead of an anticipated 71F (22C) weekend

Pictured: A candle in a white tin burns near a vine inside the Albury Vineyard as those inside the estate attempt to keep temperatures near the plants above 0C

Pictured: A candle in a white tin burns near a vine inside the Albury Vineyard as those inside the estate attempt to keep temperatures near the plants above 0C

Pictured: A candle in a white tin burns near a vine inside the Albury Vineyard as those inside the estate attempt to keep temperatures near the plants above 0C 

The intensive process is carried out just a few days of year for just a few hours when the temperature drops close to zero

The intensive process is carried out just a few days of year for just a few hours when the temperature drops close to zero

The intensive process is carried out just a few days of year for just a few hours when the temperature drops close to zero

Pictured: Glowing candles illuminate the vines at Albury Vineyard as workers attempt to keep temperatures above OC

Pictured: Glowing candles illuminate the vines at Albury Vineyard as workers attempt to keep temperatures above OC

Pictured: Glowing candles illuminate the vines at Albury Vineyard as workers attempt to keep temperatures above OC

Pictured: Ralph Percy and Jane Richard, the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, who own the Albury Estate in Surrey

Pictured: Ralph Percy and Jane Richard, the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, who own the Albury Estate in Surrey

Pictured: Ralph Percy and Jane Richard, the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, who own the Albury Estate in Surrey

He added that although this time of year is ‘critical for vineyards’ because frost damage can be ‘devastating’ for the crop, the ‘best wines come from these cool climates.’

This is the second time the Albury vines, which produce a still rosé and English sparkling wines, have been illuminated by the glow of hundreds of flames this week, as staff also battled falling temperatures on Monday.  

The stunning photographs also captured the fourth time the bougies have been lit this year, though Mr Wenman said this is nothing out of the ordinary at this time of year.

His vineyard is settled in the 150-acre Albury Park Estate, on land the family rents from Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland.

The stunning estate was acquired by Algernon George Percy, the 6th Duke of Northumberland, through his marriage to the daughter of a wealthy London banker, Louisa Drummond, in 1890.

It is the home of the Grade II-listed Albury Park Mansion, which is estimated to be worth more than £2.5million.

The vineyard is settled in the 150-acre Albury Park Estate, on land the family rents from Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland

The vineyard is settled in the 150-acre Albury Park Estate, on land the family rents from Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland

The vineyard is settled in the 150-acre Albury Park Estate, on land the family rents from Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland

The stunning estate was acquired by Algernon George Percy, the 6th Duke of Northumberland, through his marriage to the daughter of a wealthy London banker, Louisa Drummond, in 1890

The stunning estate was acquired by Algernon George Percy, the 6th Duke of Northumberland, through his marriage to the daughter of a wealthy London banker, Louisa Drummond, in 1890

The stunning estate was acquired by Algernon George Percy, the 6th Duke of Northumberland, through his marriage to the daughter of a wealthy London banker, Louisa Drummond, in 1890

The large paraffin candles are left in place across the vineyard throughout this time of year as the frosts commonly occur

The large paraffin candles are left in place across the vineyard throughout this time of year as the frosts commonly occur

The large paraffin candles are left in place across the vineyard throughout this time of year as the frosts commonly occur

Augustus Pugin, the designer of the Houses of Parliament, left his mark on the three-bedroom stately home by adding the 63 individual candlestick chimneys which give the property its Gothic Tudor appearance.

Albury Park was mentioned in the Domesday Book, with a church on its grounds – the Saxon Old St Peter and St Paul’s Church – predating the Norman invasion and conquest of England in 1066.

The grounds of Albury were designed by John Evelyn, the 17th century diarist and landscape gardener, between 1655 and 1677, when the park was owned by the 6th Duke of Norfolk Henry Howard.

Evelyn’s estate included a yew walk, a vineyard, and a 160-yard tunnel beneath the hill under Silver Wood, and in 1761 Albury Park hosted the coronation banquet of George III.

The house was owned by the Finch family until 1782 when the 4th Earl of Aylesford sold the estate to his brother William, a naval captain. He decided to enclose the park and in 1785 a number of roads were rerouted through the grounds.       

It was purchased by Charles Wall in 1811, before passing to Henry Drummond in 1819. Some 70 years later, the estate passed to the Duke of Northumberland, who still owns a large portion of the Albury Park Estate today.  

Source: Daily Mail – Articles

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