First Show President announced.

> Julian Barnes with his wife Sally

Excitement is mounting as plans take shape for The Vineyard Show, being held at the Kent Event Centre, near Maidstone, on 24 November 2021. 

The show, being organised by the publishers of Vineyard magazine with the support of a strong team led by Event Director Sarah Calcutt, can now announce that Julian Barnes, managing director of Biddenden Vineyards, has agreed to be the first Show President.

Having grown up on the vineyard started by his parents Richard and Joyce Barnes in 1969, Julian’s experience in the industry is second to none, while his vice-chairmanship of the Kent County Agricultural Society places him at the heart of the wider farming world.

He is keen to play an active part in the show and is determined to be president in more than name only. “I am particularly keen to make sure the show is interesting to as wide an audience as possible and reflects the importance of viticulture to this part of the world over a long period,” he said.

Biddenden Vineyard bottled its first wine in 1972, the same year in which it first planted Pinot Noir grapes and Ortega, for which it has now become famed and which now accounts for around 50% of its output.

The vineyard grows and hand harvests 11 varieties on 23 acres, with a focus on older vines and a reputation for good quality single varietal wines. Alongside the Ortega and a small amount of sparkling wine, Biddenden produces a Dornfelder and, in good years – hopefully including 2020 – a Gamay. The vineyard produces around 65,000 bottles a year.

“I was honoured to be asked to take on the role of President of The Vineyard Show, and after a true lifetime’s involvement in the industry I am looking forward to playing my part in what I am sure will be a great success,” Julian concluded.

The show is also proud to have recruited a number of top names as main sponsors of the show, introduced on pages 13 and 14

Sponsor: CLM

For Matthew Berryman of land, property and environmental consultants CLM, the launch of The Vineyard Show “is indicative of the bright future for the viticulture sector”.

He explained: “Like all parts of the economy, we have been hit hard by Covid-19, but the long-term prospects remain strong, with English and Welsh wines winning awards and customers.

“Running a successful vineyard business is a complex proposition, though, and that’s never been more the case than it is today.

“Successful operators need specialist advice on many topics, which is why CLM is proud to be one of sponsors of the inaugural Vineyard Show as we support viticulturists across a range of commercial areas.

“We are particularly involved in helping people find, buy and sell land, shape and structure their businesses – through such formats as leases and joint ventures – develop tourism activities and navigate the planning system.

“We give honest, objective advice, whether that’s on the upper limit they should bid for a piece of land or the likelihood of getting planning permission to build a winery if they do acquire that land. 

“We’re excited about the future and believe there are many great opportunities to be had, but we’re also realistic about the challenges.

“The Vineyard Show will be a great platform for all sections of our industry – from growers and would-be investors to wine makers, agronomists and the trade – to come together in one place.

“There’ll be a host of exhibitors and a fascinating seminar programme, making this a great place to network and hear the latest news and views

“It’s also a perfect opportunity to keep up to date with new technical advice, market trends and government policies, not to mention tasting some of the wonderful wine produced in this country.

“We live in a time of change. The launch of this new show is testimony to that change and evidence of the excitement surrounding viticulture.

“We’re based in East Sussex, in the heart of wine country, and have supported rural businesses for many years, so we’re looking forward to talking to visitors to the show at the Kent Showground on 24 November next year about how we can help them launch or develop their viticulture enterprise.”

Sponsor: Vitifruit Equipment Sales and Hire

Machinery dealer Vitifruit, another sponsor of The Vineyard Show, supplies a broad range of outdoor equipment for vineyards across the UK and takes pride in providing a bespoke service based on each customer’s needs.

“We stock entry level, but still high quality, equipment for new or smaller growers but we can also provide state-of-the-art machinery from big name manufacturers for larger vineyards,” explained Richard Witt, joint owner of the Edenbridge-based business.

“As an example, we stock sprayers from MM and Zupan which cost a few thousand pounds and are ideal for smaller vineyards, but we can also supply the Lipco recirculation sprayer that recycles any liquid that drips off the vines, saving up to 40% of chemical costs and eliminating drift.

“As well as sprayers, Vitifruit supplies mowers, inter-vine cultivators and de-leafers as well as smaller items such as secateurs and tying machines,” said Richard. “Everything apart from tractors – and in most cases we can offer products across a broad price spectrum.”

Vitifruit, which Richard set up in 2010 with partner David Sayell, also offers repairs, servicing and machinery hire, looking after customers all over the country. David Wood, the third member of the team, leads on the workshop side of the business.

Richard explained why Vitifruit had been keen to sponsor The Vineyard Show. “The company has been with Vineyard since its inception, and David (Sayell) writes an article every month, so we feel a strong affinity with the magazine and wanted to be involved in this exciting new project.

“The idea of an industry specific show for English wines and vineyards is interesting – and very necessary at a time when there is so much happening in the sector. It’s also planned for a good time of the year when people are less busy. We think it’s a great idea and we we are keen to support it.

“We are looking forward to meeting old and new customers and talking to people about how we can support their businesses.”

Sponsor: Hutchinsons

Now one of the UK’s leading vineyard agronomy companies, Hutchinsons was keen to sign up as a sponsor of The Vineyard Show.

Head of Marketing Nick Rainsley explained that the show would provide an opportunity not just to support the industry and allow Hutchinsons’ experts to share up-to-date knowledge and information but to take the time to meet and chat to new growers within a thriving sector.

Hutchinsons has a dedicated, full-time team of vineyard specialists, including Chris Cooper and Rob Saunders, two highly experienced and well-respected vineyard agronomists who contribute to Vineyard each month.

“Along with advice, Hutchinsons supplies crop protection products, nutrition and all the sundry products and services needed to manage a vine crop and to do so successfully,” Nick said. “We offer nutrition mapping and management plus soil health and soil management on organic and conventional vineyards, which is critical. Our unique healthy soils assessment looks not just at the chemical make-up of the soil but at its physical attributes to produce a comprehensive guide to how the grower can improve it.”

The vineyard market has clearly grown rapidly over the past decade or so, but Nick believes it has changed in a more fundamental way. “Growers are now more professional and more experienced and are demanding a much higher level of service and support,” he said. “They expect more, and we are here to deliver more.

“While the main change is in the sheer scale of the industry, that more professional approach is also driving things forward. When you have investment in this country from traditional wine areas in France, you know that the game is changing – and we are here to support that.

“Hutchinsons feels the time is absolutely right for the industry to have its own, dedicated professional event that supports and celebrates all areas of viticulture and provides great networking opportunities and a chance to showcase the best of English wines. We will be highlighting new technologies and services in areas such as weather and disease prediction and nutrition and soil mapping.

“It is also important to us to know that the show is being organised by a highly professional team brought together by Vineyard magazine. Their knowledge of the industry and their experience gives us confidence that this really will be a great show.”

Sponsor: Bruni Erben

Long-established packaging company bruni erben is another valued sponsor of The Vineyard Show taking place in November 2021.

Bruni erben, set up nearly 70 years ago and now owned by Berlin Packaging, specialises in bottles, closures and the machinery that brings those two elements together securely, as well as filling and packaging equipment.

“We see The Vineyard Show as a really great way of putting more focus on a sector that is coming of age and shifting rapidly from the ‘hobby vineyard’ of 20 or so years ago to the highly professional industry that we see today,” explained technical sales manager for wines and spirits Mark Crumpton. 

Mark brings a particular understanding of the industry to his role with bruni erben, having obtained a Masters Degree in wine making from Plumpton College.

Given its long-standing history, it is no surprise that in 1955 bruni erben – then H Erben Ltd – supplied pressing and bottling machinery to Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones, who planted the first commercial vineyard in the UK for a hundred years. 

More recent developments include setting up a supplier partnership with Laffort, which allows the company to offer oenological supplies, filtration kits, processing aids and additives alongside tanks, bottling equipment and closures.

Bruni erben has its own UK laboratory and offers technical support to all its customers. “We see ourselves as very customer-centric and we make sure we listen and respond to their requests. We offer other support including stockholding, logistics and credit accounts and we can also print straight onto glass,” explained Mark.

“It’s exciting to see the increasingly professional approach being taken by UK wine growers and makers and their determination to produce high quality wines, and our aim is to supply them with the right products and the right bottles to help them do that. The industry is going through astonishing growth and has a great future.

“The Vineyard Show will be a great way to celebrate that and bring the various players together as a source of ideas and expertise from which all the visitors can draw. It’s a great idea and I’m sure it will be a huge success.”