And now for the next in the series of profiles of Redh’s favourite UK drinks producers, we turn to the world of sparkling wine, and renowned West Sussex company, Tinwood. Based just below the very scenic South Downs National Park, Tinwood are proud producers of some of the best Engish sparkling wines we’ve come across. But their story begins, rather unusually, with the humble Iceberg Lettuce.
It was in the 80s that the Tinwood Estate was first acquired by this successful family firm. Fresh over from Holland, they took over some 200 acres of land and made their mark growing and selling Iceberg Lettuces, that staple ingredient of healthy British salads. But market forces were taking their toll on profit margins, and the next generation of the family off to agricultural school, the question was how to secure the future of the estate going forward. It took a dissertation on English wine production in the South to introduce the idea of a potential vineyard.
Some further expert opinion and research showed that the land at Tinwood was a perfect location for a vineyard, and so in his early 20s, Art, the up and coming son and heir, travelled to New Zealand to gain hands-on experience in the winemaking industry. And so in 2007, a 28-acre vineyard was planted on the site, followed by further expansion over the next few years, so that these days the Tinwood vines cover 65 acres.
If you ever go to visit Tinwood, you’ll love the viewing platform, which not only gives the vista of the grapes but also the sight of the sunny seaside town of Bognor Regis. With the Isle of Wight taking the force of the south-westerly winds and the Estate itself set in a bowl-shaped dip in the landscape, these vineyards are well-protected and gain the massive benefit of a statistically very sunny spot, without the harsh sea breezes. It’s exactly what you need for quality wine production.
Not only does Tinwood’s location provide great weather conditions for grapes to grow, but the soil is also perfect for drainage. The high percentage of chalk, together with the upper layer of local flint stone means the water isn’t retained for long in the soil, and the roots have excellent earth in which to gain all the nutrients and stability they require.
You’ll be a hard push to beat The Estate Brut as sparkling English wines go, but you should also sample the Blanc de Blancs and Tinwood’s own Rosé. These are all available from Redh, of course, and we reckon they are just the thing for celebrating the first buds of spring, whether you’re enjoying your glass by the white cliffs of Dover, at a pool party in Cornwall, a cosmopolitan roof garden in Chelsea, or just a special Netflix night in front of the fire with your beloved.
Great stories are always behind the best brands, and Tinwood’s meteoric rise from iceberg lettuces to vineyards and sparkling wine is no exception!