Fruit Focus helps wine producers maximise quality

Growers need to focus on maximising grape and wine quality after a difficult start to the year, with late frosts damaging yields in some areas.

From perfecting winemaking techniques to maximising efficiencies, visitors to the Fruit Focus event will discover how to help their business bounce back from the harsh spring and move ahead with confidence next year.

Cameron Roucher, vineyard manager at the Rathfinny Wine Estate advises producers not to just ignore their vineyard despite the difficult season. “It’s important to keep it as normal and healthy as you can, even if you don’t have much crop there.” Mr Roucher will be appearing on the panel at the UK Vineyards Association forum, answering a range of topical questions from visitors.

“The UKVA celebrated its 50th anniversary in January and has seen the UK wine industry grow tremendously in strength in this time, supporting and guiding producers throughout,” says event director Jon Day. “It’s an organisation that has so much to offer and as an integral part of the Vines to Wines event, experts will be on hand to give advice and talks at the UKVA forum.”

This year, the UKVA forum will be focusing on yield, quality and profitability, which is especially topical given the difficult year many producers have had. “There has been a lot of talk about yield recently, especially after the spring frosts,” says Jo Cowderoy, general secretary at the UKVA, who will be chairing the forum. “This year it will be important to focus on quality, in order to maximise profitability, something that Fruit Focus is really going to help growers hone in on.”

Speakers in the forum will include:

  • Dr Richard Smart from Smart Viticulture, talking on factors affecting yield;
  • Dr Julian Lecourt, vine and tree physiologist at NIAB EMR, with a summary of his research on yield;
  • Duncan McNeill at McNeill Vineyard Management, on efficiency and cost of inputs and
  • Cameron Roucher, Vineyard Manager, at the Rathfinny Estate.

Following the forum, producers who have booked in advance will be able to discover the wines of England in a tutored wine tasting session with Jo Cowderoy. She will explore a selection of award-winning still and sparkling English wines and take participants through grape varieties and winemaking techniques suited to the UK climate.

As well as listening to the latest expertise and advice, visitors can get hands-on in a series of technical workshops run with the UKVA to help maximise yields and quality. Two of the workshops will cover summer pruning and canopy management, led by Dr Richard Smart. A further two will focus on pests and disease; particularly identification and control, run by Duncan McNeill.

As Fruit Focus is based at the NIAB East Malling Research site in Kent, visitors will have the opportunity to tour around the research vineyard, which is set to produce its first ever fruit this season. Tours will be led by Dr Emma Tilston; soil and rhizosphere scientist, and Dr Julien Lecourt, and will cover soil health, weeds, crop development, quality and yield.

Bringing together more than 1,300 growers and 120 exhibitors, the event will have numerous industry professionals on hand to take producers through new varieties, crop protection, fertiliser and nutrition, as well as viticulture equipment and vineyard management. There will also be plenty of opportunity to brush up on anything from production to wine making and wine quality, alongside product development, winery design, sales and marketing.

  • To book tickets visit, and save £5 by entering FRUITTICKET promotional code*. Anyone wishing to attend the Tutored Wine Tasting will need to book in advance. The technical workshops are included in the Fruit Focus ticket price, but places are limited so visitors wishing to take part will need to book in advance online.

* Terms and Conditions apply. Valid until 16th July.  Cannot be used in conjunction with any other ticket offers.  Visit for full terms and conditions.