The Hilden Vineyard nestles among the rolling hills in The Garden of England in a bowl on two clay slopes, south and north facing, covering 1 1/2 and 3 acres respectively (total 1.4 hectares) outside the village of Hildenborough at the end of Coldharbour Lane.
We planted the three classic sparkling wine grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier in 2015. The climate of Kent and Sussex, humid with short dry summers, is proving very favourable to making English sparkling wine from a mixture of these grapes.
Our vineyard is situated on a quiet lane sheltered by ancient hedgerows and in a favourable microclimate supporting optimal ripening conditions for our grapes.
In 2018 we had our first harvest. The vines were planted in 2015 and are not yet fully grown but the weather was record breaking for English vines with no frost and over 60 consecutive days of sunshine from late May to late July.
As a result we picked our Pinot Noir(PN) and Pinot Meunier(PM) grapes on 18 September and our Chardonnay(CH) grapes on 21 September. The tonnages were 2.9 for PN, 0.75 for PM and 3.45 for Ch, giving a total of just over 7 tonnes with all the grapes giving potential alcohol of 11°.
Under our agreement with Digby Fine Wines we sold all our grapes to them and delivered them to Dermot Sugrue at Wiston Estates, who is their winemaker.
Dermot Sugrue said the red grapes were“brilliant and rare” and the white grapes were “delicious and thoroughly exceptional”. We now await what Digby together with Dermot will do with the grapes, whether they will use them to make their brut or Leander Pink or perhaps make a vintage rosé.
We are now confident our site not only has great potential but looks as if it should produce great grapes.