On Friday 21 June 2019, ‘man of Kent’ and one of the world’s leading wine experts Oz Clarke opened the first annual Canterbury Wine Festival.Continue reading “The “Vineyard of England””
This month Chris Cooper and Rob Saunders, vine specialists in the Hutchinsons Horticultural Team, are making observations on the current status of the vine crop.Continue reading “Hutchinsons: Current status of crop”
Since the first third of an acre of vines was planted at Biddenden in 1969, the Barnes family have poured their hearts into the creation of award-winning English wines and the development of the wider industry. Believed to be the oldest commercial estate still owned and managed by direct descendants, Vineyard editor Victoria Rose met with the second- and third-generation viticulturists and winemakers to reflect on an everchanging English wine scene, delights from the 2018 harvest and on-going development on the 25-acre estate.Continue reading “A golden age in the Garden of England”
Having recently rebranded as the NextGen Fruit Group, the membership organisation previously named the Under 40s, is inviting all young people working in the viticulture industry to get involved in its global community of bright, talented and motivated individuals.Continue reading “Presenting the NextGen”
I first met Julian, Sally and Tom Barnes at the 2014 Taste of Kent Awards while I was rushing around after a photographer taking names for captions. Julian seemed to be amazed at how I already knew the family behind Biddenden Vineyards, despite having never met them before.
The truth was, I was working for the PR company supporting and promoting the annual event and as such was privileged to see the embargoed results. Looking down the list the day before, I had noticed there was a Kent Wine of the Year category, of which Biddenden’s 2012 Ortega was the winner.
Cheshire born and bred; I had grown up with a distinct lack of local vineyards (there is still only one I know of!) English wine was a completely new phenomenon to me and I had spent so much time on Biddenden Vineyard’s website in awe, thinking how incredibly brave a farmer must be to grub up apples in Kent to plant vines, that it was actually difficult not to recognise the family.
One year later, I actually found myself working with the Barneses at Biddenden Vineyard and from there my knowledge, passion and utter commitment to this illustrious home-grown wine industry was nurtured and developed. It was, therefore, a true to delight to be able to write about something so close to my heart this month, see page 18.
The magical thing about Biddenden and the Barnes family is that, as Kent’s first planted commercial vineyard, and probably the oldest estate in the UK which is still owned and completely managed by direct decedents, (New Hall in Essex, which was also planted in 1969, is now owned by the founder’s son-in-law), the estate simultaneously reflects the past, present and future of the industry.
Having gradually taken over from his parents, Julian and Sally have seen it all. From the ‘original’ English wine boom in the 1980s, to its subsequent bust and its modern-day revival. There is no disease, pest, frost, good or bad harvest which they haven’t experienced and while many in the industry are just starting their viticultural career the Barnes have a wealth of experience to draw on each year.
Winning golds in international wine competitions and playing an instrumental role in new initiatives such as the Wine Garden of England, Biddenden proves time and time again that as a producer they are still as relevant today as they were leading the scene 50 years ago.
Looking to the future; viticulture is a long-term game and I doubt there are any vineyard owners out there who don’t dream of a time where their legacy is handed down through the generations. With the third generation now working in the business, Biddenden highlights everything which is ahead for the those with passion and dedication.
Plant protection products available to vine growers are tried and tested, the result of years of manufacturer research and development, and also from years of experience of recommendation and observation in the field; specifically wine grapes under UK conditions. Bio-pesticides are gradually becoming more available and should also have this pedigree as they must jump the same hoops of the registration process; though experience of them in our cool climate is more limited.Continue reading “Agrii: Coming of age?”
How did you personally get started in wine?
My path to wine was about as indirect as you can get. I lived all over Australia and South East Asia while working as an exploration geologist, however, there was a tipping point in around 2010 where my passion for wine took over.Continue reading “In conversation with Alex Hurley”
In the South East of England we now review all land which is being sold to see whether it might have potential for vineyard planting, such is the demand from buyers and also sellers who are savvy about land values.Continue reading “BTF: New vineyard planting”
This month Chris Cooper and Rob Saunders, vine specialists in the Hutchinsons Horticultural Team, are making general observations on the current status of the vine crop.Continue reading “Hutchinsons: Observations for June”
By the time this article goes to press most growers will have completed shoot removal and shoot selection / crown thinning and will be looking at lifting their first pair of foliage wires into position. In the UK, the majority of growers train their vines using the VSP system with most trellis systems having 2 or 3 pairs of moveable / catch / foliage wires.Continue reading “Vine-Works: The vine post”