Ancre Hill Estates
Ancre Hill Estates was planted over 10 years ago by Richard Morris. His first vision was to be organic but has since gone on to work biodynamically as well. Located in Monmouthshire, Wales, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Richard and his team work hard to protect their environment. The winery is constructed of compressed straw bales and lime render complete with a living green roof, all of which allows the winery to breathe naturally. No artificial fertilisers or chemicals are used in the vineyard or winery, and sulphur is kept to a minimum. Ancre Hill like to experiment with their wines, choosing to carry out fermentation in stainless steel vats, oak barrels and Nomblot (concrete) eggs. They choose to avoid filtering and fining wines as often as possible.
Astley Vineyard is one of the UK’s more northerly located vineyards, situated in Worcestershire. Established in 1971 it is also one of the UK’s oldest commercial vineyards. In 2017 Astley Vineyard was taken over by the Haywood family, who have rebranded and refocused the vision of the vineyard. They’ve also built a new winery on site, meaning grapes travel a total of 250m from vineyard to press. The vineyard was originally planted with Germanic varieties, such as Madeline x Angevine 7672, Siegerrebe and 48 year old Kerner vines which are still in use. The Haywood’s are particularly keen to promote wine tourism in England and host a number of tasting events, including a tour and tasting of Astley Vineyard wines, supper nights and yoga retreats.
Biddenden originated as a 40 acre apple orchard and it was only by a chance BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour feature on English vineyards that vines were ever planted at Biddenden by the Barnes family. The vineyard has remained family owned and is today run by the second & third generation, who will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. 11 varieties of grapes are grown across 23 acres, of which Ortega accounts for approximately half of the vineyards. All grapes are estate grown, with all vine work and picking carried out by hand to ensure that the very best quality grapes are selected. Pressing, fermentation and bottling is also carried out on site, and the majority of wines are sold directly from the cellar door.
Black Chalk is the brainchild of Jacob Leadley. Having started his career in Finance, Leadley decided to swap long hours in the office to long hours in the vineyard. With seven years of experience working at Hattingley Valley as a winemaker, plus stints in Champagne and New Zealand, Leadley has worked hard to learn his craft. Black Chalk was only launched in May 2018, but both sparkling wines, a Brut and a Rosé, have won awards for each vintage release at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. High praise, indeed. Grapes are sourced from vineyards in the south of England and the wines are made in Hampshire by Leadley.
Blackbook was born from Sergio and Lynsey’s love of three things: cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; the English wine industry; and the city they call home, London. Unlike most wineries which are located in the countryside, Blackbook is an urban winery based in a railway arch in London’s Battersea. Grapes are sourced from growers within hours of the city (London, East Anglia, Oxfordshire), carefully selected for their well-located vineyards and high quality grapes. Sergio’s career in wine began when he joined the Michelin world as a sommelier. Quickly realising that his desire was to produce wine instead, Sergio enrolled at Plumpton College to study Viticulture and Oenology. He spent the next few years as a travelling winemaker in England, California, Burgundy, Stellenbosch, and then finally to New Zealand before he stuck his passport in the drawer.
Carr Taylor is one of the UK’s oldest commercial vineyards. Established in 1971, the business still remains family run and it is second generation, Alex Carr-Taylor, who is winemaker. Having grown up surrounded by the vines and winemaking, Alex won the Vintner’s Cup, awarded to the best student, for the WSET Diploma and is now proving his worth having won six awards in 2019 alone for his wines.
Carr Taylor owns 37 acres of vines in East Sussex where they are based. Grapes are sourced from these vineyards plus others, and are all hand picked.
Established in 2001, Chapel Down is one of England’s leading winemakers. Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Kent, Chapel Down is set amongst 22 acres of vineyard. Grapes come from within these vineyards but are also sourced from growers located between Essex and Hampshire. Head winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire has worked at Chapel Down since 2013, when he started as a cellar hand. His wine career started when he worked in wine bars in his teens, before travelling to South Africa to work a harvest and later enrolling at Plumpton College to study Viticulture and Oenology. At the start of Donaghay-Spire’s career with Chapel Down, he would also travel to Alsace and Champagne to learn how they were making wine. Chapel Down offers a world-class range of sparkling and still wines, together with a collection of premium spirits, and an award-winning range of Curious beers and cider.
Will Davenport is the only UK winemaker to receive awards and commendations every year since 2009 for his organic wines. Davenport studied winemaking at Roseworthy Agricultural College in Australia, has worked in the London wine trade and had various stints in Alsace, California, Australia and the UK before setting up his own winery. What started as just 5 acres in 1991 has grown to 24 acres on five parcels of land, planted with nine grape varieties. In 2000 all vines and the winery were converted to organic principles and certified by the Soil Association. The vineyards are managed by Phil Harris, one of the most knowledgeable vineyard managers of English organic wine. All grapes are estate grown, 100% organically farmed, vinified with native yeasts and made with minimal intervention.
Once upon a time Ingrid Bates maintained a local vineyard, but not content with maintaining alone, Bates planted Dunleavy in 2008. From pruning the vines, to crushing the grapes and delivering the wine herself in and around Bristol, Bates lives and breathes Dunleavy. The wine is made by winemaker Steve Brooksbank, who works closely with Bates to create the multi-award winning rose and others. The first wine, a Pinot Noir rose, was released in 2013 and was the only wine to be made until earlier this year when a limited edition sparkling wine, made from Seyval Blanc, was released. A sparkling red is also due for release in September.
Situated just over the Norfolk border to Suffolk, Flint Vineyard was born from a chance email. Ben and Hannah Witchell quit their jobs to travel the world and on their return to England Ben enrolled at Plumpton college to study Viticulture and Oenology, before they packed their bags once more. This time the couple headed to Beaujolais where Ben worked as a winemaker. Two years later, and with their first daughter, the couple returned to England. An email sent to local farmer, Adrian, asking if he knew of any small plots for sale quickly revealed he had one himself. One site analysis later and Flint Vineyard was born. As well as producing a range of still wines, Flint Vineyard make a sparkling rose by the charmat method, which was the first English wine to be made in this style.
Since launching in 2013 Hattingley Valley has become recognised around the world and are currently exporting to 16 countries. The Hampshire based vineyard is owned by Simon Robinson, also the chairman of industrial body The Wines of Great Britain. Expertise comes from Hattingley Valley’s head winemaker, Emma Rice, who has won the award for UK Winemaker of the Year twice, first in 2014 then in 2016. Vines were planted back in 2008, five years before launching enabling the new vines to establish themselves. In 2010 an eco-friendly winery was built, resulting in Hattingley Valley being the first UK winery to adopt solar power.
Montgomery Vineyard is a family run vineyard and winery in a unique part of Wales, the garden of Montgomeryshire. It was established by the Lennard family in 2012, whose vision and uncompromising quality control helps to develop Wales’ signature wines. Rootstocks have been specifically chosen to suit the terroir and microclimate, and the greatest attention to detail is taken with all vines being hand planted and grapes being hand picked. With a deep respect for the wine making process and understanding of time means Montgomery Vineyard release the wines when they are ready to drink.
Nyetimber is regarded as one of England’s greatest producers. The estate is thought to date back over 1000 years but, it was only in 1988 that vines were planted on the land. With vineyards in Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, Nyetimber accounts for almost 9% of total UK area planted with vines, which is more than any other producer in the UK. An ethos most likely unknown to many of their fans, Nyetimber takes a sustainable and holistic approach in the production of their wines. The estate, based in West Sussex, only produces sparkling wines, made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The current winemakers, and married couple, Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix were brought into Nyetimber in 2007, and have gone on to win numerous awards for their wines.
Oxney Organic Estate
Oxney Organic Estate is the largest organic vineyard in the UK. It is a organic farm with vineyards and holiday cottages, run by Kristin Syltevik and Paul Dobson with a sustainable and natural approach to farming. Farming practices include spreading farmyard manure and compost over the soil every year, weeding by hand and no use of herbicides or pesticides. Oxney Organic is also part of the Soil Association, which entails them to follow slightly restricted regulations of grape growing and winemaking compared to others who follow the EU regulations on Organic winemaking alone. Winemaker, Ben Smith, trained at Plumpton college before travelling to New Zealand and Australia where he gained experience in organic vineyards.
Raimes English Sparkling is owned by the Raimes family and is now run by fifth generation, Augusta and Robert. Located in Hampshire, the family business began life as a working farm and still remains as so. Wheat, barley and oilseed rape is grown on the 1,500 acre estate, whilst Hereford cattle graze the grasslands. Over the last nine years, the cattle have had to fight for their grassland as the Raimes realised the soil was perfect for planting the three traditional grape varieties. The first of the 10 acres of vines were planted in 2011, quickly followed by their first harvest in 2013, which produced their first release Raimes Blanc de Noirs 2013. A sellout every year since. Raimes English Sparkling Classic 2014 won a gold award at the 2019 International Wine Challenge.
Simpsons Wine Estate
Charles and Ruth Simpson may be newcomers to the English wine scene but they are no strangers to the world of viticulture and winemaking, having owned Domaine Sainte Rose in France’s Languedoc region since 2002. Simpsons’ Wine Estate is located in Barham, Kent, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The first vines were planted in 2014, with a further 20 hectares of vines being planted over 2016 and 2017. Once all three vineyards are in full production, the Estate will be working towards producing upwards of 250,000 bottles of English still and sparkling wine per year. The wines are created with minimal intervention, promoting the purest expression of the fruit, with the state-of-the-art winery located mere minutes from the vines.
Located in the South Downs National Park, Stopham Estate does much to maintain a sustainable environment. Owner and head winemaker Simon Woodhead, along with assistant winemaker Tom Bartlett, use estate grown grapes only and pick every one by hand. The duo work hard to maintain a natural eco-system, by using manure produced by the estate’s cattle on the soil, recycling all organic waste back onto the estate and by adopting techniques that are beneficial to biodiversity. Stopham Estate has been winning many awards and acclaim for its Pinot Gris since its first release.
The Uncommon is the first producer brand to can English wine. The business, established by Henry Connell and Alex Thraves, is driven by a desire to be the most sustainable wine producer in the country. Not only does the canned format reduce their carbon footprint by 70% (compared to the glass equivalent) but The Uncommon insist that all stages of the production process take place within 20 miles of their London base, even if it comes at a premium . The guys even repurpose old wine corks for use as labels on their multipacks and use recycled can. The Uncommon has three vineyards in Kent, Surrey and Hampshire growing Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Bacchus and Chardonnay and they have partered with Litmus wines ay Denbies for the wine making (although Henry and Alex plan to one day build their own urban winery in SE London). Henry brought a wealth of experience to The Uncommon having first trained at Plumpton college and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, as well as having worked at Nyetimber and Hattingley Valley.
Tillingham is a natural and biodynamic wine producer located in Rye, East Sussex. Co-owner and winemaker, Ben Walgate, currently sources grapes from Surrey, Sussex, Essex and the west country but plans on using estate grown grapes only in the coming years. There are 10 Georgian qveri buried in the ground in the oast house, which are used for fermentation. All wines are made with native yeasts, whilst most white wines receive some skin contact and some of the wines have no added sulphur. The farm at Tillingham dates back to the 13th century and is set amongst 70 acres of rolling hills and woodlands. Home to vineyards, fruit trees, ancient woodlands and livestock, the farmhouse has been recently restored to include bedrooms and a restaurant, which shall be open from mid-October, with a wine bar to follow.
Trevibban Mill was created by chance alone. Current owners, Engin and Liz, were attracted to the property’s old mill, of which the vineyard takes its name, and bought with a view to restoring a small part of Cornwall’s history. Today there are 11,000 vines and 1,700 apple trees. The couple’s farming method is to create a healthy biodiversity by attracting bees, birds and wildlife to the area. In the summer the couple sow a piece of land with wildflowers to attract bees, switching to grass or grazing rye in winter to feed the sheep.
Whilst the winery at Trevibban Mill is certified organic by the Soil Association and Engin and Liz follow organic principles, the couple have decided that they will not go for the organic certification for their wines. Thus meaning, wine labels will not include an official organic certification logo but the wines have been made in such a way.
Wiston Estate has belonged to the Goring family since 1743, however it was not until Pip married Harry Goring in 1972 and moved from South Africa to West Sussex that a vineyard was ever considered. To Pip, who had grown up in the Cape surrounded by vineyards, the planting of vineyards here was obvious, but it took Pip 34 years to convince her husband. Finally, a 16 acre vineyard plot was selected and planted with the traditional varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Dermot Sugrue is head winemaker at Wiston Estate, whilst also producing wine under his own name. Sugrue gained his expertise at Nyetimer and in Bordeaux. He too is another alumni member of Plumpton college. In 2018 Wiston Estate won ‘Winery of the Year’ at the WineGB awards.