PLAY

OCTOBER

The bulk of the harvest is now in. The steady, calming rhythm of fermentations tick along in the winery, where I sit now. When I last wrote, back in May, fledging green shoots were unfurling in the vineyards and we were beginning to adjust to the new normal of what has proven to be a most abnormal year.

This vintage has seen our very first grapes from our still establishing vineyards. The three years of hard work and nerve racking experimental, biodynamic practices have paid off. Despite an early touch of frost, a dry summer and a bit of thievery by the birds, the crop has been beautiful, and we have the making of three very special wines. All field blends (multiple varieties picked and fermented together) with an aromatic white, a red wine made from predominantly Pinot Meunier, and a pale, pretty red made from both red and white varieties.

The three wines above will be the first Tillingham estate wines, and as such, to differentiate them from the négociant wines that we make (and will continue to make) from grapes grown by others, they will have a totally new identity: new labels basically. Expected spring 2021 onwards.

Since we reopened our restaurant and rooms back in August, we have been inundated with visitors and this has helped enormously in clawing back the lost revenue that resulted from the lockdown. We still have a long way to go to get back on track, but with fingers crossed and the continued support of our customers the outlook could be a lot worse.

The quality of the food and service is more than I could have dreamed of when we started this project three years ago. The team we have assembled, in such a short space of time, are quite remarkable, relocating in the most part, to this sleepy corner of East Sussex. As we get into our third month since reopening, in addition to our dinner service we are expanding the food offer, with a very exciting lunch menu on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday from the 23rd of this month. The very successful Pizza operation closes next Sunday (the 18th of October) to reopen when spring returns.

Who knows what lays ahead, between now and then. All I know is what great solace, comfort even, we can draw from the natural world that surrounds us. If we immerse, invest and connect ourselves with that, then the better we will be for it. If not, there will always be wine.

BW

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