It’s amazing to see how far English sparkling wine has come in a very short time. It was only last week that I was tasting four lovely wines from newcomer Rathfinny, who first planted in 2012 and now have a 60 hectare vineyard, with production set to cap at 600 000 bottles.
There’s now a roll call of large professional operations focusing almost exclusively on traditional method sparkling: Gusbourne, Hambledon and Ridgeview would be on that list, but the biggest of all is Nyetimber, who now have 10 vineyards, totalling 327 hectares (in 2020, 260 of these will be producing grapes).
Today Nyetimber announced that they have begun planting 42 hectares at a new site in Kent. This is a sizeable job, and will see 195 000 vines going into the ground. Together with 2.5 hectares being replanted at the home vineyard in West Sussex, this will enable them to make another 220 000 bottles from 2023/24.
The new vineyard is near Thurnham in Kent, on the Kent Downs. Soils are chalky loams over a chalk base, and from the pictures they look really nice. [The sight of so much bare soil is a bit shocking to those with enlightened vitcultural sensibilities, but this is what’s needed for the initial establishment of the vines. Then it’s time to get life in the vineyard.]
Photo credits: Chris Gorman, The Big Ladder Photographer www.bigladder.co.uk