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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Harvest is one of the most exciting times to visit Gusbourne. Book one of our Discovery or Estate Tours between 26th September and 4th October for an extra-special experience.
Late Night Openings
Drop by the vineyard after-hours for a glass of Gusbourne on Saturdays this August.
A Wine in Time: Cork and Lees Ageing
Soil. Grapes. Weather. All critical elements in winemaking. But equally important is time. Time in the vineyard. Time in tanks, barrels and bottles. Time developing into perfection in a glass. What happens at each stage of the wine ageing process has a profound effect on how the finished wine tastes. So what exactly is the difference between cork ageing and lees ageing?