It’s been four months since I last sat down and put pen to paper about the goings on here at the farm, not for a shortage of content but the perennial problem of being far too busy.
Throughout September, we had a big push to get the rooms and restaurant open. A year after construction began, we finally opened our doors, and have been welcoming visitors for 8 weeks now. The 11 rooms are available 5 nights a week, and the restaurant is serving a fixed, four course dinner Thursday to Saturday. The downstairs bar and tasting room is open 7 days a week and we’ve been offering small plates alongside a selection of our favourite wines from around the world. We’ve also been stocking up our shop with lots of beautiful, high-quality products and books that are aligned with our ethos and that we love too.
It’s been fantastic to see it all come together and also to see all the new people that we have working here make it happen. This time a year ago, there was just myself and Serena, now we have 18 people involved in the business. From February we increase our opening hours to 7 days a week and will be extending our food offer too. Watch out for more events, our first residential sourdough course in January has sold out, but more dates are available on our events page.
No year growing grapes is ever the same, especially with the high wire act that is growing grapes in the UK. This year was on track to be very good, a slightly later start than normal, but with a solid summer. Harvest got off to a good start, but then the weather turned at the end of September and the rainfall from then on was pretty incessant, with data suggesting well above average rainfall due to the jet stream sitting further south than normal. This rainfall meant lower than average sugars and delayed ripening, however we had some lovely fruit with great flavours, it’s just not the blockbuster year that 2018 proved to be. Some of the 2019s are already in bottle, the Pet-Nats and variants of, we also made more of our R (our carbonic maceration play on Beaujolais Nouveau) which is almost sold out. Visit our wines page to see the current releases.
Export has really taken off over the last 6 months, with the wines now finding themselves in nine countries, in no particular order: Norway, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Australia and Georgia, with three very exciting new countries coming online next year.
As you can imagine, it’s been an exhausting year, but also rewarding and very exciting. As I’m effectively signing off the year, it goes without saying that this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the amazing individuals we have working here, who have gone above and beyond, and for all those people that have got behind Tillingham and supported us one way or another.