While Champagne has a clearly defined industry structure, in England things are little less clear. Here, we’ve rounded up the wineries doing things differently, from pioneers of the ‘swap model’ to England’s version of négociants.
In partnership with Tom Hewson of Six Atmospheres, the author of the English Sparkling Wine Report 2020, we’re highlighting the differences between wineries operating in England.
Not all producers grow their own grapes, nor make their own wine. Some brands have their own vineyards, but use contract winemakers to produce their wine. Others do the reverse, in effect operating as négociants, buying in grapes from growers and making wine from this. Some, such as Hattingley Valley, grow their own grapes and make wine from it, but offer a ‘grape swap’ operation for growers, acting in similar fashion to a co-operative.
With the first grapes specifically destined for fizz first planted as recently as the late ’80s, the industry is still relatively fresh-faced. As new producers have come onto the scene, it makes sense to use contract winemakers until they have the funds to build their own wineries.
As Hewson states, this “is an excellent arrangement for most, and absolutely no barrier to quality whatsoever”. He notes that it is quite a “fluid” operation, with some wineries swapping contractors and others deciding to make their wines in-house over time.
Current brands that grow and manage their own vineyards, but use contracting services, include West Sussex’s Ashling Park and Coolhurst Vineyards, East Sussex’s Charles Palmer and Fox & Fox, Sussex’s Roebuck Estate, and Hampshire’s The Grange, Jenkyn Place and Raimes.
Producers with their own wines, but which also offer contract winemaking services include Hattingley Valley, Ridgeview, Wiston Estate and Denbies.
Hewson’s sparkling wine report is available to download via his Six Atmospheres site. There is a link to a downloadable PDF, as well as a Kindle version that can also be viewed on any mobile device or tablet.
Here, we’ve rounded up six wineries that are doing things differently, from industry veterans Camel Valley to England’s version of négociants.