From vine to winery; it’s attention to detail that makes the most exquisite of fizz.
We are lucky enough to have some of the best sites in West Sussex; sunny with free-draining soil, perfect for vines to flourish and in the most beautiful of settings.
The vines are nurtured to ensure they have the best start and the vines themselves are lovingly tendered by our staff. The root stocks are chosen after a lot of thought and experience ensuring we have an excellent selection of the three main varieties that make up a classic cuvée; the holy trinity of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Once established, December and January are set aside for pruning, readying the vines for budding. One of the first obstacles to overcome in any growing season is to prevent the young buds being hit by any late spring frosts. 2018 saw plentiful buds throughout the vineyard – quite the opposite to the notorious 2017 vintage. Once over this hurdle and with the buds preserved, the first of the leaves start emerging in May, along with the start of the summer. With the weather on our side, we will then have incredibly even flowering, fruit set and even growth everywhere – a viticulturist’s dream!
We’re asked a lot if our vines are able to cope with the intense heat of the summer and the answer simply put is ‘yes’. In established vines (at their eldest, ours are 12 years old) the roots have penetrated so far into the soil that a hot UK summer really doesn’t bother them at all. We keep an eye on some of our younger vines, but there is usually so much rain over the winter that all the plants have access to water reserves if they needed it. And the usual timely showers interspersed throughout the summer always help.
Suddenly harvest arrives. By now the grapes are changing colour (going through ‘veraison’), gaining sugar, dropping in acidity and swelling. Harvest is a hugely exciting time in the vineyard. There’s lots of preparation, ensuring we have enough pickers to pick the grapes and enough crates for the bountiful harvest. The winery is made ready preparing tank space and we all keep our fingers crossed for good weather. Our manager ensures each site and variety is picked at the optimum time, ensuring just the right amount of acidity and sugar are present. All the grapes are picked by hand by experienced pickers; they have many years’ experience and treat the grapes with the respect they deserve. We are very lucky with our vines. The care and attention we give them, they repay with the highest quality grapes. This attention to detail ensures a rich diversity of wines when blending commences in the spring.
Once the grapes are packed and loaded into crates they depart for the winery within hours of being picked. The wines then begin their journey from grape to juice and ultimately to the most delicious wines. A good harvest, as we’ve had in 2018 (nay, a great harvest!) is a cause for celebration and anticipation of the amazing wine it will, in time, produce.