As we came to a decision to plant our vineyard in England we were faced with two options. We could have waited a year for all the preparations to take place to convert the 5 hectares of which had formerly been simple grazing fields into a vineyard. Or we could go ahead immediately. We chose to set things in motion straight away as we were eager to found our wine estate. We sped up all preparations, aiming to have the vines planted in the soil ready for the summer of 2015.
A new drainage system was implemented into the fields as the vines do not like standing with damp feet. Seeing as we live in a country where we experience regular rainfall we wanted to ensure that the vineyard would be able to effectively disperse of the excess water. The field was already situated on a gentle downwards slope providing natural help with water flow however we felt a drainage system would let us ensure the wellbeing of the vines for the future. After all we hope that these vines will stand strong and serve as the backbone of the vineyard for many generations to come.
In sourcing the vines, we relied on help from one of the UK’s foremost viticulture consultants Stephen Skelton. It was a little late in the season to go shopping for vine plants, nonetheless Steven managed to procure plants with suitable clones and root stocks that would fit our goals perfectly. 18,000 plants arrived in May ready to find their new home here in East Sussex.
We faced a new challenge as the soil was damp due to the field being newly subsoiled and ploughed. This meant we could not use the planting machine brought over from Germany. Instead we planted all 18,000 plants by hand. It was done with the help of a skilled workforce brought in from Europe whom without their help I dare say it could not have been achieved. They were also key in helping us install the trellising on which the vines grow on. In the end we used approximately 200,000m of wiring between the posts across the vineyard.
After many hours of challenging work, we were left with the beautiful vineyard we have today. It still stands strong after facing the elements of the last couple of years which have included severe downpour and winds alike. Nonetheless the vines remain ready to yield a fantastic harvest from which we will produce our very first bottles.