SARAH CROSSFIELD AND TIM SARSON
History and plans
In 2020 we completed the purchase of 2 plots on the slopes above Lynsore Bottom.
Why plant a vineyard in England? Certainly not for the money. Nobody in this country ever made their fortune growing grapes. The marginal climate, which gives English wines their razor-sharp acid and cool climate kudos, also gives yields that are low and unpredictable even by the standards of our nearest neighbours in Northern France, and even to the best growers.
For us, it's because there is an opportunity to make something special in one of the most exciting new viticultural regions.
Little Bursted is in its youth. We bought the land in 2020, spent 2021 undertaking ground preparation and finally planted in spring 2022.
Our first crop is likely to be in 2024 or 2025, and because we want to give our wines - both sparkling and still - substantial time in tank and in bottle we don't expect to release our first wines to the market until at least 2027. But we'd like to bring you on the journey with us which is why we're online so early. It will be worth the wait.
We are commuter vignerons, living and working in London and travelling to the vineyard each week. We expect to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Nature and sustainability
We want to be as open as possible with the choices we make and the data we gather as we go along. That includes our approach to maintaining biodiversity and soil health. The Kent Downs slopes are (or should be) home to species rich chalk grassland and a wide range of insects. Viticulture, if done well and with care, should help rather than hinder this.
The facts of wine are too often artfully obfuscated by florid language and in-group speak. Not only in terms of terroir and quality products - too many English vineyards proclaim the perfect microclimate or soil, and the greatest harvests of clean beautifully balanced grapes year after year - but equally when it comes to how that terroir is managed.
Even the most sustainable of vineyards use some chemicals and make land use changes that aren't to the benefit of all species. But we can at least try our best.
On our "science" page you will see:
details of how we have prepared and planted the land
data on annual applications of any crop nutrients, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides
how we manage birds, deer and other friendly neighbours (moles are particular fans of the terroir)
annual harvest figures including crop yield, sugars, titratable acidity
descriptions of the winemaking process including additions such as sulphur or clarifying agents
honest accounts of the pitfalls as well as the pleasures of grape growing, from spring frost to autumn bird attacks and everything in between....
...in other words all the things you wanted to know about how English wine is made but were afraid to ask.
We'll be updating our blog pages as we go along, and you can follow us on social media too - see the Twitter and Instagram links below - or please get in touch via our contact page and we'll be happy to show you around the slope as it turns from bare pasture into established vineyard.