Fine dining in the vines

The Gladwin’s farm-to-fork family business both grows and sources, local Sussex produce for their London restaurant group. Inevitably the business has felt the impact of the pandemic, along with the rest of the hospitality sector. 

The Gladwin’s farm-to-fork family business has adapted fast to the pandemic and provided online sales and deliveries of their ‘local and wild’ fine food and wine, to meet the culinary and sensory needs of the rising number of discerning and sustainability-aware customers. Vineyard discovers the Gladwin’s exciting future plans which includes offering unique fine dining in the vines at their Nutbourne Vineyard.

The Gladwin family comprises Peter and Bridget and their three sons, Richard, Oliver and Gregory. Bridget combines managing the vineyard with her work as an artist. Her paintings are featured on the stunning Nutbourne wine labels. Peter is a celebrated chef whose exclusive catering company has provided banquets for royals and he is the author of many beautiful recipe books. Peter loves to welcome visitors to Nutbourne and convey his passion and knowledge to them as tour guide – and is happy to roll up his sleeves to do some hard graft in the vines. Peter is also Vice Chair of the UK wine industry’s trade association, Wines of Great Britain. Richard and Oliver run their four London restaurants; The Shed, in Notting Hill; Rabbit, in Chelsea; Nutbourne, in Battersea; and Sussex in Soho. The restaurants all specialise in seasonal and sustainable Sussex produce and serve the range of Nutbourne wines. Youngest son Gregory is the farmer and rears cattle, pigs and sheep, as well as working in the vineyard. He supports other local farmers by sourcing their produce to supply the restaurants and the Nutbourne farm shop. The family skill-set came about naturally insists Bridget, “we didn’t decide on their careers when they were aged three!”

Plans are now underway to bring this unique combination of family talents back to the delightful ambiance of their Sussex vineyard by offering Fine Dining in the Vines.

“There is potential for huge growth in wine tourism in the county – we have the quality, reputation and fabulous locations to make it happen,” commented Peter. The Gladwin family have been taking amazing local produce to their restaurants in London and now see the logic in bringing their critically acclaimed dining experience back to the vineyard in Sussex. “The pandemic brought people out of London to Sussex for the weekends and I think this will continue. In our stunning location overlooking the South Downs, we can offer a spectacular place to dine, great food and wine, combined with vineyard tours and tutored tastings. The subject of food and wine is infinite, there really are no limits, rather like art,” added Peter. “English wines are premium products and intended for fine dining. I don’t think they are the right match for sausage rolls or brownies served in a café,” he smiled. 

It’s very much a family affair, with each member providing their input of hospitality, restaurants, vineyard and countryside to create this exclusive experience. However, to implement their ideas and lead this new and exciting venture, Nutbourne is bringing in wine ‘fanatic’ and restaurateur, Robin Frean and chef, Emma Spofforth to join the team.

Set in the beautiful Sussex countryside, surrounded by wildflowers and unspoilt wild fowl areas, Nutbourne is a boutique vineyard; all the wine is made on-site only from grapes grown on the estate. “We will also be planting our own market garden to supply our new on-site kitchens with home grown vegetables and herbs, together with the meat from our farm,” Peter explained.

Guests to Nutbourne can be hosted in a variety of wonderful locations – private dining in the old windmill, which is lit at night and boasts a lovely chill-out area and 360° balcony; or the timber wine lodge nestled within the vines; or for larger groups the beautifully decorated Raj Tent which opens onto a wonderful deck with stunning views over the vineyards to the South Downs. To complete the atmospheric setting there are open outdoor fires, candle lights and even a tractor drawn carriage can be requested for guests’ arrival and the vineyard tour.

A few lucky visitors to Nutbourne vineyard have already had a chance to experience the pop-up restaurants. “We held a few trials in 2019 which were a lot of fun and a great success. This inspired us to plan more as soon as the restrictions are lifted,” Peter commented.

During lockdown the Gladwin restaurants have continued to be busy delivering boxes of gastronomic delights such as beef wellington, game terrines and crab thermidor, bringing local and wild ingredients sourced from the Sussex farm, along with wine from Nutbourne vineyard, direct to London homes. They are also handling the production for a new specialist plant-based service, supplying a nutritious and delicious fresh food range at a time when it has become important to support local producers, and to provide seasonal and sustainable fresh produce. “People are increasingly interested in where their food comes from, sustainability and no food wastage,” commented Peter. Our moto is “what grows together goes together,” he added.

“This summer we will be launching a new naturally low alcohol wine, called Ten.Five. It is a still wine made from our chardonnay, unoaked, light and delicate without any chapitilisation at only 10.5% alcohol,” said Peter. 

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