In the last 10 years hectarage of planted vines in the UK has more than doubled making wine one of the fastest growing agricultural products in the UK. Visit any supermarket and you’ll discover many increasingly impressive bottles from some of the big Estates – Nyetimber, Chapel Down and Camel Valley in Cornwall to name a few.
Interest in English wine has surged along with the rise of craft beers and locally sourced produce. Customers are increasingly interested in tasting wines from lesser-known producers, but who are these new winemakers?
Hence my quest – Grape Britain – to visit every one of the 500 plus English and Welsh Vineyards.
Somewhere between the M3 and the south coast sits a criss-cross of country lanes, roads so entwined you easily find yourself lost. It is here in the heart of Hampshire you will find Hattingley Valley and it sits perfectly in this idyll. It was quite a sight for a Londoner – the bare branched trees forming tunnels along the roads. It had me wondering if I was on my way to Westeros.
Simon Robinson, a former lawyer established Hattingley Valley in 2008 with the help of Emma Rice, Founder of Custom Crush, a wine analysis laboratory. Together they have grown the vineyard into a modern, eco-friendly winery over 60 acres across two sites. Simon and Emma and their teams take pride in the quality their work and the use of the latest technology. They were the UK’s first winery to adopt solar power.
Ten years on, the winery has attracted a passionate and dynamic group of individuals, excited about the explosion of interest in English wines and about the prospect of working at the forefront of English wine-making.
They are separated into two distinct teams who together look after the vineyard and make the wine. The wine-making team is made up of Emma and Jacob Leadley (main photo) with help from Will Perkins.
The second part of the team (vineyard team) is headed up by Lauren Merryfield (Vineyard Manager), Roman Henrion and Tom Birkett.
There is a huge commitment to evaluating the Hampshire terroir and planting an experimental range of grape varieties and root stock in search of the best fruit-bearing vines.
Hattingley Valley has the potential to be one of the leading and most respected of English sparkling wines. They have already won many global awards and are a leading player in the English sparkling wine industry.
The team now manages 60 acres on two well-situated sites. The vines are nurtured throughout the growing year with an environmentally sensitive approach to enhance ripeness, yield and fruit quality.
I was lucky therefore to have an interview with Rebecca Fisher (Marketing
and Events Manager) to talk about Hattingley Valley and also put some
questions forward to Jacob Leadley, wine-maker. To read this you can go to www.thegrapewizard.com
I can also be found on Instagram and twitter and Linkedin under thegrapewizard