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downsmail.co.uk Vineyards spread across Kent


THOUSANDSof rows of vines growing inAylesford’s backyard have helped to put English wines on the worldmap.


The 115-acre vineyard at the foot


of Blue Bell Hill was acquired and planted by Tenterden-based Chapel Down in 2008 and is now the largest in the south east. Regarded as one of the finest production sites in the region, its success led the company to expand further, with a site nearby at Box- ley.


Nowa Chardonnay, named after


the Kits Coty monument near the Aylesford estate, has been recog- nised as one of the UK’s bestwhite wines,with the 2013 bottles selling for about £20 each. And after Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch raised the question in Par- liament as to why embassies around the world were serving French instead of UK wines, Chapel Down products are now re- puted to be included in the gov- ernment’s catering lists. “It caused such a fuss, but the Foreign Office and Defra took note,” she said. The company has also been se-


lected to join an elite group of Britain’s finest 170 luxury brands. Membership of the exclusive Wal-


pole group is by invitation only and the winemaker will feature in this elite commercial community, alongside iconic brands such as Alexander McQueen, Mulberry and Rolls Royce. After an excellent vintage in


2015, Richard Lewis, Chapel Down’s head of viticulture, reck- ons this year’sAylesford crop looks


to be “very promising”. He said: “The vines are looking fantastic. They were well watered in June and now the summer is really un- derway, they are flourishing. De- spite some cold andwetweather at the start, it warmed up just in time to provide ideal conditions.” He said the 83-acre vineyard at Boxley, which was planted last


year, is looking amazing. “It is hard to imagine the vines were only planted a little over a year ago as they are now tall and strong and al- ready needing a trim.” Meanwhile, the company’s


newest vineyard – 40 acres at Sand- hurst, Kent - was also looking ex- cellent and promising to be a very productive site.


Future is looking rosé after couple’s first wine harvest


Funds raised for brewery


CHAPEL Down and its Curious Drinks beer and cider division will start work on a new brewery in Ashford after raising £1.16m from supporters. The successful crowd-funding initiative follows a 40% annual increase in Curious beer and cider sales – driven by top end restaurants, bars and hotels. The new brewery – next to


Ashford International Station – will allow the business to consolidate its brewing and bottling operations, something seen as crucial to the success of the UK drinks’ industry, according to its CEO Frazer Thompson–avocal supporter of bespoke beers and wines and a critic of “big brewery blandness”.


24 Malling August 2016


A COUPLE are toasting the suc- cess of the first wine they have pro- duced five years after setting up their vineyard. Henry Boorman and his girl-


friend Christina McQuillan (pic- tured) took on the 20-acre Redhill Farm Estates inWateringbury, with the aim of one day producing a “strawberries and cream” rosé wine. This summer, the dream became


reality and they have enjoyed sell- outs of their stock at local pubs, in- cluding the village’s North Pole hostelry and The George at Yald- ing.


Priced at £15 a bottle, with a Bac-


chus white wine at £12.50, the product is aimed at the mid-mar- ket, and not the higher end domi- nated by Kent vineyards Hush Heath and Chapel Down. It is available in micro-pubs and a


bar in London, aswell as online. Henry and Christina, both 31, are enjoying the fruits of their labour. “We would pick grapes and be


on the wine presses until 2am,” she explained. “I still work in London and would be up at 6am for my job in


our grapeswere ready last Septem- ber/October and we started to make the wine, with help from Plumpton agricultural college in East Sussex. “But whenwe tasted the first bot-


tles in January/February of this year,well, that was pretty special. “Henry set out five years ago to produce a ‘strawberries and cream’ rose wine and it was incredible when we realised we had made it. Some French rosé wines can be very sweet, but this tastes like sum- mer.


“Our white wine has tones of


melon and lemon and is similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, but fruitier. “We didn’t think our wine would


publishing. “But it never felt like work and


it’s lovely living in such a beautiful area with such views. “Of course, we had our ups and downs along the way, but we are pretty chuffed at what we have achieved. “Itwas exhilarating whenwe felt


be ready yet or thatwe would have made such a good quality wine.” Henry is co-owner of a bar in Brixton and learned his trade as a sommelier at The Swan at West Malling. He worked as a design consult-


ant in London to pay for converting his family’s estate into a vineyard – and now he and Christina are reap- ing the rewards.  Visit thewebsite at www.red- hillestate.com


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