OATLEY VINEYARD GEOGRAPHY

 
 

Oatley is in Somerset, in south-west England, between the Quantock Hills and the Bristol Channel. The site is a good one, a gentle SE slope, 30 - 40 m above sea level, sheltered by four surrounding low hills,  Swang Hill, Bower Hill, Horn Hill and, the wooded rise in the photo above, Furze Covert.


We are in the rain shadow of the Quantock Hills, visible in the distance, which makes the site drier than  average for Somerset. The Bristol Channel coast 3 miles to the north helps to reduce damaging spring frosts when the vines are budding. When the wind's in the north, it has just come over the sea and that makes a vital degree or two's difference. We haven't had a significant crop loss to frost in 21 years.


The vineyard is watered by springs. The soil is well-drained, red sandy loam of pH6.7, great for vines though at the start a bit over-fertile.  We've dealt with that by carting off the prunings each year and now fruit and leaf growth is pretty much in balance, so we've started mulching the prunings in (just the fresh canes, not the older wood) and feeding the vines with manure.


We're in the heart of the countryside, the fields are edged with ancient, bio-diverse hedges and headlands. Along the south and west sides of the vineyard is a sunken, wooded green lane, and along the eastern, lowest, side, a brook. The higher, western part of the field behind the windbreak we currently managed as a nature reserve, with rough grass cut once a year in July and self-sown saplings.   Read about our wildlife here>>.


We planted the later, Kernling grapes on the higher, western side of the slope, which is a little warmer and less vulnerable to spring frosts, and the earlier-maturing Madeleine Angevine to the east.  Read more about the Vines>>


Recently we have harvested the Madeleine in the last week of September, and the Kernling in the third week of October, around a week earlier than our first harvests in the early 1990s.  A slightly alarming indicator of the progress of global warming.



























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LEFT  the vineyard from Knoll Green, on Bower Hill


BELOW  Our red sandy loam, newly-turned


MIDDLE  OS map showing contours. The vineyard fielld is NW of the Oatley Vineyard legend, now divided by a windbreak, visible in the satellite pic


BELOW Vineyard from the house roof


BOTTOM  Google Earth satellite photo of the vines