Simon Porter is a farmer, and owner of the Penn Croft winery in Hampshire. He’s been farming regeneratively for a while, and has now planted vineyards managed this way, as well as opening a 600 ton winery that does contract winemaking as well as making his own wines.
‘I became convinced quite a few years ago that conventional industrial farming was unsustainable and that something needed to change,’ he says. ‘We started on this road 20 years ago and when we came to plant a vineyard in 2019 I was equally convinced that my vineyard should reflect my way of thinking. I am told that our vineyard is quite unconventional! Regenerative farming certainly requires it to be a whole farm practice including woodlands, hedges and land on the margins of most arable fields.’
Winemaking is in the hands of Ben Smith, who moved here in 2020 after four years at Oxney, an organic winery in East Sussex. I tried two of their wines.
Penn Croft Bacchus 2020 England
12% alcohol. Lively, fruity and bright on the nose with some bright pear and table grape terpenic notes, leading to a fruity palate with crisp acidity as well as some elderflower and citrus. It’s really nicely balanced, with fruit to the fore and a sense of transparency. 89/100 (£16.99)
Penn Croft Pinot Blanc 2020 England
13% alcohol. Grapes from Missing Gate Vineyard in the Crouch Valley. Fermented in used barrels, this has a slightly honeyed, nutty edge to the fruit with just a touch of oak evident. Appealing palate with pear and citrus fruit with some white peach, and then an undercurrent of subtle nutty notes, with a spicy frill on the finish. Stylish with quite some volume for an English wine, but it retains freshness. 90/100 (£28.50)