Quality in all things is the mantra for us here at Gusbourne. It's the same story a few miles west along the coast at The Goodwood Estate. Here our Head Winemaker Charlie Holland shares ideas on nurturing nature with Goodwood's Master Butcher John Hearn.
"It always goes back to where you start," says Charlie. "The techniques you employ in making wine in the winery matter immensely, but the real start point is what you have growing in the fields." He's referring, of course, to the raw ingredients. The planted vines, the choice of clones, the attention given to the soil. "All good comes from how we look after them."
For Master Butcher John Hearn over at Goodwood, with 52 years at the block, the story is the same. His raw ingredients tend to move around the fields rather more boisterously. "We have Southdown lambs because they're from here, same with our Sussex red cattle. All our animals have constant care, respect and calmness all the way through. We keep our beef for two years. Our calves get grass, grass and grass. They mature slowly. Our Gloucester Old Spots and Saddleback pigs live outdoors in family groups because they’re supposed to. They have a superb quality of life."
Back at Gusbourne, all our fruit is carefully picked by hand. Charlie Holland lets our wines mature at their own pace. All English Sparkling Wine must spend at least nine months on lees, but Gusbourne wines are left longer to develop more complex flavour profiles. Our Blanc de Noirs remains on its lees for at least 27 months plus six months on cork, our Blanc de Blancs 42 months. "Why rush?" says Charlie. "When your aspiration is to offer customers the highest quality possible, we think the time taken is well spent."
Love what's local
John Hearn's commitment to caring husbandry is a reflection of the traditional methods used by Goodwood for over 300 years. In more recent history Susan, Duchess of Richmond was one of the Soil Association's earliest members. Her belief in organic farming and proper animal welfare was instrumental in Home Farm becoming the first 100% organically fed dairy in the country. Not only are all the animals bred on the estate, they’re fed only on fodder grown there too.
Likewise for Charlie Holland, localism makes sense. The pleasure we take in making wine here in Kent connects to a rootedness in the local soil, a reflection of place that's authentic. All our wines are made from grapes grown exclusively in our own vineyards. Our tour experiences and special events at The Nest pair our wines with local food.
It's an agenda that's becoming important for many people. The unsettling events of the past year have prompted many to reassess priorities and place greater value on favouring optimum quality, local expertise and sustainable environmental choices.
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