This is the third season for our 10,000 vines, planted in the summer of 2018, all being well we will have our very first grapes this autumn. We had bud burst in the early varietals at the beginning of April and as I look out the window now, the fragile green shoots of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Ortega in our Saw Pit block are being jostled about by a blustery south westerly breeze. The oaks and chestnut that predominate in the surrounding woodlands are greening up, the ewes and lambs enjoying their lustrous green pastures.
We are busy in the winery, especially on the wet days, blending and preparing the wines for bottling. We’ll be bottling two to three days a week from now, until well into the summer. New releases are imminent, our first ever Piquette and ATHINGMILL, both a lot of fun to drink, will be released in the coming weeks.
The closure of our rooms and restaurant as a result of the current pandemic have been a huge blow to the business. We were busy and looking forward to a busy spring/summer season, the impact on our overall cashflow is devastating. It’s also been sad to see the place empty and also to have to furlough our wonderful employees. The place is looking beautiful and we’ll be ready when we’re allowed to reopen. We are taking bookings via the website and also selling vouchers which can be redeemed anytime over the next 12 months. It goes without saying that we need as much help from our followers as ever if we are to weather this storm.
The silver lining to having to close our burgeoning tourism business is that it has allowed me to focus much more on the farming aspect here. My interest in wine is very much tied to farming, it’s where I came from, and it was in a field in Burgundy twenty years ago, that I decided, somewhat naively, that farming grapevines was to be my future.
Regenerative farming is a relatively hot topic, I didn’t know it until recently, but this term absolutely nails what it is I have been working towards and inspired by since first being introduced to Biodynamics many moons ago. When people have asked me about our approach here, I’ve struggled to explain it easily, saying that it is an amalgamation of practices etc. In essence, regenerative agriculture is about repairing and rebuilding the soil and the wider farmed environment, in the knowledge that it is all connected, that there are both symbiotic and subtle connections between plants and animals on all levels. It isn’t just a way of farming though, it is also a way of life, about balance and respect. Far from the finished article we are just at the beginning of our journey, I just hope that with all the support we are lucky to have in the world it’s a one we will be able to continue for the foreseeable.