kenton park wine estate has a nickname amongst it's friends .... "jotty's chateau" or "chateau Jotty".
“Jotty” is the nickname of the founder of Kenton Park Wine Estate (Jayne Oliphant-Thompson) and “Jotty’s Chateau” is an affectionate play on words for this small, but perfectly formed ..... very English Vineyard.
“The Estate’s Vines are protected by the majestic and distinctive ridges of the Forests rising behind it and are energised by the ebbing tides of the Exe Estuary flowing in front of it with gently undulating land rising and falling on either side of the Vineyard..”
The mists rising from the Estuary often give the Estate an ethereal quality and quietly work their magic into the flavour of the grapes grown in the Vineyard.
“Chateau Jotty” itself is an elegant Georgian property that sits in the heart of the Estate, surrounded by a Courtyard of Buildings including the Estate Offices, Stables, Guest Lodge and Barns.
Pheasants and Partridges run wild all over the Estate, ducking in and out of the Vine Rows and their comical behaviour is captured and illustrated on every Wine Label by the famous Cartoonist, Bryn Barry, OBE.
A VERY DISCREET VINEYARD
Although Vines were originally planted in 2003, it’s presence as a Vineyard is not well known. However ..... there is something inexplicable that sets it apart from other Wine Estates.
There’s an energy surge bubbling away from within its Gates.
There have been recent sightings of some Sparkling Wines bearing the name of Kenton Park Estate (there is a sparkling Classic Cuvée called “The Motley Cru” and a sparkling Rosé Reserve called “Gun Dog Escape” and soon to be launched “Flying Circus” which is a Blanc de Blancs).
Some have tasted the Wines and described them as exquisite.
It would seem that these Wines are in a league all of their own, not seeking fame or stardom- just quietly unobtainable and certainly not mass produced.
EMPOWERED BY VINES
The Owner of “Chateau Jotty” talks passionately about being “Empowered by Vines”. It’s a story that Jotty is happy to share if it can inspire others who may be hesitant to take a leap into the unknown and take on a new challenge.
Having trekked to Everest Base Camp in April 2015 (narrowly escaping from Kathmandu just before the earthquake hit Nepal destroying thousands of lives) it was this experience that gave Jotty a new perspective on life with the knowledge that if you can survive the physical challenge of climbing to Everest Base Camp, enduring 15 days of non-stop climbing (and managing to avoid altitude sickness which wiped out several members of Jotty’s Expedition team mates), then you can achieve a whole lot more going forward back at home in your personal life.
So when the opportunity to take on the restoration of Kenton Park Wine Estate came about shortly afterwards in September 2016, Jotty didn’t give it a second thought. She knew instantly that this was the next adventure (no need to physically climb any more mountains or travel to destinations where there was a potential risk of another natural disaster).
Jotty’s roots were going to be firmly established with the Vines!
Despite her husband working away both in London and overseas, Jotty never worried for a minute that she wouldn’t be able to take on this challenge. There was something magical in the air ....... Excitement!
And it was with giddy excitement in May 2018 when 15,000 new Vines were planted and Jotty realised that an incredible journey had begun.
There is known to be a magical ingredient in the skins and seeds of Red Grapes - “Resveratol” (specifically in Pinot Noir grapes which coincidently are grown on the Estate). It’s a fantastic “ingredient” to incorporate into your daily skin care regime as an anti-ageing property.
It’s no surprise therefore that “Chateau Jotty” is producing a Facial Oil containing this special ingredient in the form of a Skin Serum. So this is what is going on behind the Gates!
It’s not the only magical ingredient in this Vineyard, there is also the incredible salty scent of Seaweed in the air.
Several times a year, the Vines are treated to an organic Seaweed Spray which stimulates their growth because of the incredible nutrients in Seaweed.
The Seaweed itself is harvested off the wild Atlantic coastline of Ireland and converted into a liquid which is then sprayed onto the Vines several times during the growing season. A totally natural and organic magic seaweed treatment.
It’s been an enormous learning curve for Jotty since taking on the restoration of the Vineyard especially knowing nothing about Viticulture beforehand and the complex art of growing grapes.
Jotty had to go back to School but not in the traditional way .....
It wasn’t going to be possible with all the usual family commitments, 3 children and already running a Consultancy business with her husband as well as overseeing the newly planted Vines.
“I had to look at how I could learn in a different way .. there would have been an outcry at home if I wasn’t there and my husband was already away from the Family with consultancy work and so I couldn’t possibly be away at the same time. Therefore my only option was to engage in a new way of learning - Mobile Learning”.
Jotty has embraced the world of Podcasts and subscribed to several Wine related Podcasts to educate herself at all hours of the day.
The UK Wine Show which has been “on Air” for over 10 years with almost 600 Podcasts in the series has given Jotty an incredible insight into the world of Viticulture, Wine Making and Wine Marketing as well as endless people to contact in the business of wine.
But who has time to sit and listen to that many Podcasts!
“Since we moved to Kenton Park Estate, the daily school run is now an hour commute in the morning and again in the afternoon which is precious mobile learning time”.
Any task out in the Vineyard can be accompanied by listening to podcasts on your iPhone, even when driving up and down the Vine Rows in the Tractor. If at first you don’t understand a topic you can replay it over and over again. Any long distance car journey to Airports is a great opportunity to plug into a podcast.
Daily walks to exercise the Estate’s Gun Dogs around the local Forest Husky Dog Trails is also a great opportunity to listen to the next episode.
There are several Wine-related podcasts including “Batonage”, the newly launched Podcast hosted by Liam Steevenson, Master of Wine and Fiona Beckett) and another favourite one is "Italian Wine Podcast" with Monty Waldin which is permanently playing in the Office.
Jotty has also attended several courses at Plumpton College (the Centre of Excellence for Wine Education) which helped Jotty to establish a support network of colleagues from other English Vineyards and everyone is very happy to share advice.
Every copy of VINEYARD Magazine has been devoured as an excellent resource for information .....
Jotty is not alone running the Wine Estate, her older son Ben also works in the business along with two other members of the Team and they hire in all the additional manpower they need to help with the daily pampering of the much loved Vines.
So here we are today sitting in the Winery overlooking the Vines as they dance in the breeze. The air is filled with the gentle unique scent from the Estate’s own luxurious Candle Collection (“Femme Fatale”).
We’re enjoying a delicious Champagne Risotto (made here in the Vineyard Kitchen) with a glass of their sparkling wine - “The Motley Cru” a Classic Cuvée.
It’s true that Wine most definitely makes people smile! I can feel myself grinning from ear to ear as I take each sip.
[Kenton Park Wine Estate is not open on a daily basis to the Public - it is only open at certain times of the year for special events].