Explore our best-known Kent vineyard, Boot Hill, with insights from Laura Rhys, Master Sommelier. Home to our still-wine grapes, and some of our ripest fruit, Boot Hill is one of our most favoured sites.

In 2004, when we started planting vines in Kent, we first chose the most promising sites.  

Funnily enough, Boot Hill was earmarked as our third choice - it’s higher up and, we thought, more exposed. So, we set it to one side. However, in 2006, gut-instict took over and we decided to plant despite initial findings. Science and wine are inextricably linked, but - as Boot Hill shows - sometimes on-paper analysis can bear little resemblance to the real life of a vine.

Boot Hill is now one of our most favoured sites throughout all our vineyards, producing some of our very best fruit.

Clay and sandy soils
The soil is made up entirely of clay and sandy loam, with varying amounts of each throughout the vineyard. At the top of the slope, the soil is dense, rich clay, prone to compaction. The surface appears wet and sticky in the winter and dry as a bone in the dry heat of mid-summer. However, it holds great advantages for ripening the fruit and – perhaps going against the rule book a little – the hard clay helps us by controlling vigour in the vines. This keeps yields lower and increases ripeness.

As the slope rolls downhill, the soil becomes more friable, with loam, sand and silt. This makes nutrients more available to the vines, resulting in more vigour and higher yields. It’s all a balance.

The gentle slopes of Boot Hill allow the vines to take advantage of better drainage, less frost risk and increased exposure to the sun. This, alongside the soil, makes Boot Hill one of our ripest sites.

That said, the top and bottom of the slope of Boot Hill are notably different; the top dries more quickly; it gets more sun, and there’s less frost risk, but it’s more exposed and slightly cooler than the vines at the bottom.

The highest point
As the path winds up from the winery to the top of Boot Hill, we reach the highest point of our vineyards, at 46 metres above sea level. Of course, compared with many vineyards in the world, this is considered no elevation at all, but even this minimal height brings beneficial sunlight during the growing season.

Boot Hill is close enough to the coast to feel a sea breeze. However, much of the vineyard is protected from the strongest winds by more mature headlands to the south, including Mill Hill. At the top of Boot Hill, you’ll feel the wind; further down the slope, it's more sheltered. 

A focus for still wine
In a marginal climate such as the UK, ripeness is king in sparkling wines. It's even more important in still-wine production. It's no accident that most of our still-wine grapes come from Boot Hill. We’ve isolated Burgundian clones in particular blocks that benefit from increased ripeness and these are set aside for still wine production.

Base wines from Boot Hill often show a richness, weight and muscularity we don’t see in other wines – and often a very discernible mineral character too.

You can experience the weight and richness of Boot Hill's fruit in our 2022 single-vineyard Chardonnay, available now