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A lot to catch up on…

Hello all, it’s been a while since my last blog so there’s plenty to catch you up on! In my last post, I was talking about cover cropping in the vineyard and why we were implementing it this year. Time to reveal if it worked or not… In short… Maybe? I find myself referencing Clarkson’s farm more and more frequently and my latest episode “Cover Cropping” would have been a corker. I often say farming is a constant learning curve, this was no exception. It started with trying to obtain a non-till seed drill (we’re trying to seed the cover crop without actually disturbing the soil too much, thus maintaining the ecosystem that we have already developed) The problem was there aren’t many of these available, particularly ones that fit in vineyard rows, trying to organise the delivery of said machine turned out to be a logistical nightmare as it bounced from vineyard to vineyard, eventually coming to us all the way from Hampshire. 

As I’d never had any experience using this machine, I organised a contractor to come and do the job, which I thought was sensible and organised but apparently best-laid plans can come crashing down rather easily as on the day of the job in question, the contractor was suddenly available no longer… 

In true Clarkson style, I went into “how hard can it be?” Mode. As it turns out… pretty damn hard. One needs to be a qualified NASA electrician to wire this machine up to the tractor, especially when several wires and connections are damaged and broken. 4 trips to separate electrical and agricultural shops, multiple tantrums a lot of coffee and help and 1 whole day later, I finally had this machine wired in and calibrated and was ready to give it a go. 

Once I had the machine attached and operating, the actual seeding part seemed a bit of a doddle, perhaps a little too easy as it turns out. 

Truth be told it was always a little bit of a long shot that this method would truly work as the cover crop needed to outcompete the grass, we were also probably too late to get it in the ground so we missed the boat on optimal germination conditions. This being said however, seedlings are coming through, it’s just to what success, I don’t know. Either way, we are letting nature have its way, every other row in the vineyard and growth is happening so look out for whatever comes through. 

As for the rest of the vineyard, things are progressing nicely, even with the lack of heat. People have been asking me what this year is looking like. As it stands, it’s tracking fairly similarly to 2021, a cooler summer so likely lower yields but damp and humid conditions have also meant that the vines have grown quickly. It also means weeds and grasses alike have also thrived so the team and I have been hard at work controlling all of this, I think I’ve had every member of the restaurant team at some point out in the vines with me! On the whole, the vineyard is looking great, the vines are really healthy at this stage and now all we’re waiting for is a little more heart to initiate the start of flowering! 

Tours and Tastings have been proving ever popular of late and it’s been great to do more wine in the wild experiences, particularly our wine and mud experience with Landrover, it’s been great to see guests' reactions after thrashing defenders around an off-road course, it always amazes people just how much these cars are capable of! It’s a great day out, combined with a delicious lunch and wine tour, now that’s how to enjoy a glass of wine! We can now transport you there in our newly branded Land Rovers, look out for us on the roads! 

We also ran our very first Barista Masterclass the other day. The regulars amongst you will have met Jon in the restaurant and seen just how passionate he is about his coffee and that came across in spades in his masterclass. Some of the guests could have even worked behind the bar by the end of it! This is a great stepping stone for when we eventually have our own coffee roaster and Jon starts doing roasting classes as well. Keep an eye out for his next masterclass and be sure to book on before it sells out!

In other news, as well as a huge amount of vineyard tours and wine in the wild experiences we recently did our very first garden tour with our horticultural team. The feedback was great and I know Anna and the team are hugely excited to do more of them and showcase all our incredible plantings and ideas with all you budding gardeners. They’re even planning on doing herbal tea tastings. I was lucky enough to sample some of these teas in the herb garden using some amazing herbs, flowers and botanicals, all from our gardens. They were incredible and it was really exciting to hear all about the benefits of each individual expression. 

The kitchen garden has also been in full swing recently, you can often see head chef Mike, or rather his head followed by a cheeky grin as he secretly raids the latest goods first thing in the morning. Last week, the team harvested some delicious Broad beans as well as a great crop of potatoes all to be used in the kitchens so next time you have these on your plate, you’ll know exactly where they came from! 

Some super exciting news was that the first 2 wines from our 2023 harvest arrived recently - our 2023 “Grape Thief” 100% Pinot Noir and 2023 “Runner Ducks” tank fermented Bacchus were released and the reception so far has been fantastic! We also released our 2022 “Cheeky Fizz” white sparkling wine made from our Bacchus and Reichensteiner grapes. This has gone down a storm, we will certainly be making more of it! We’ll be doing a tasting of these for everyone who’s not tried them yet and anyone who just wants more… as part of our celebration of English Wine Week on Saturday 22nd from 5:30 onwards. There will be live music as well so come on down and give them a try, we’re excited to share them with you!

A lot of you will have seen our new marquee structure going up over the last week, it’s looking fantastic already but believe me there’s a lot more to come. This is going to be a really exciting event space so do let us know if you have any enquiries and we’ll see how we can make your event special! 

That about does it for now, it’s shaping up to be a very busy week here with the English Wine Week celebrations and we hope to see as many of you here as possible throughout the week to share a glass or bottle with us!

Until next time, 


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