The blog of Grapefan Consulting, Colin Smith's adventures in the wonderful world of wine as a judge, WSET Diploma graduate and occasional promoter of wines round the London trade scene.
Friday, 2 July 2010
Visit to Kent Vineyard
I was shown around the Kent Vineyard the other evening by Richard who, along with his good friend Justin, are the pair behind resurrecting this 19 year old vineyard which has been lying neglected for 5 years. And what a good job they have done. You can see the pictures I took here. Their own web site has some pictures of what it looked like before they started.
Located in the heart of Kent (and in a place you could never find) it's around 5 acres of Seyval Blanc,Bacchus and Schoneburger. When the guys took it on it was covered with brambles, oak and chestnut saplings and already the brambles are starting to show again at ground level. Richard is confident however a healthy dose of weedkiller from the new sprayer they got themselves will see the brambles off. Having got rid of the brambles they had to plant a further 400 vines to replace some of those that no longer existed. These have taken well and the original vines are in full leaf, looking healthy and some have a few small fruit. Next year therefore will be their first real harvest and they have teamed up with a winemaker with real experience of growing grapes and making wine in the South East.
Until they can make their own wine they are making 300 litres of elderflower wine making very good use of the elderflower trees in one corner of the vineyard.
As English wine has grown in reputation and standing with the wine trade over the past few years and consumers have been able to buy more and more of it thanks to enlightened retailers like Waitrose, the future looks good for Richard and Justin. However the financial outlay until then is considerable with the prospect of little if any income to offset this in the mean time. And there is the usual problem of name recognition. With few exceptions consumers tend to go for the better know varieties such as chardonnay or pinot noir but that's nothing a smart piece of branding can't get around.