Seven to eight years minimum, in fact, from planting a vine to opening a bottle made from it. As Gusbourne's Head Winemaker Charlie Holland says, "Making sparkling wine is a long-term labour of love, with lots of tiny decisions combining into a fantastic end product. It takes four years from first planting to having grapes ready to make into wine. Then six months of production followed by a minimum of three years ageing. In fact, our Blanc de Blancs takes longer, spending at least 42 months maturing on the lees."
Nature's slow rhythms are our winemaker's master. Charlie oversees a multiplicity of separate steps within the traditional stages of sparkling winemaking, from planting through vinification to careful blending. And because Gusbourne produces exclusively vintage wines – with our three grape varieties prone to six months of unpredictable weather in their different planted parcels – the processes required of our vineyard and winemaking teams, to attain the same exacting quality for each release involve commensurate complexity.
Of all tasks unique to sparkling wine, perhaps the most iconic remains the riddling: every bottle, stacked and angled in special racks, is slowly turned every day to settle the in-bottle fermentation sediment into the neck before disgorgement. In past centuries this would be manually done. Today, gyropalettes still take 115 hours to complete the task, turning each bottle 49 times.
A final cellar-room flourish at Gusbourne that also takes time is how we hand-inspect and hand-polish every single bottle before it's packed. Gift-boxed or case-loaded, nothing leaves Gusbourne without slow, respectful attention to detail. We think this tells a story of its own.
Time well spent? Always.
Find out more about the production of our sparkling wines by booking a tour of Gusbourne when we can welcome you again in person.
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Winemaking: How It All Begins
How can some grapes growing on a vine eventually come to elevate the everyday into a special occasion? Here's how we turn what happens in the vineyard into what happens in the bottle.
Our Home Village
All fine wines come with a sense of place, the singularity of their origin. In our case, it's the ancient flint and limestone village of Appledore in Kent, a handful of miles north of the English Channel, that adds its character to our sparkling wines. It's a spot worth exploring on your visit to Gusbourne Estate.