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2 PartnersIt is hard to remember, as we prepare and pray for our third harvest of grapes this season, that it is only five years since the only occupants of our meadows were a herd of Jacobs sheep quietly nibbling the brown grass. After much planning and soil testing the die was cast. On the appointed day, in came two mighty tractors on loan from a friendly farmer and within an hour or two they had ploughed and harrowed our ancient meadows backwards and forward, throwing up soil, flint, sarsens, brick and the detritus of generations of farmers whose favourite method of disposal was to bury it. The result: ground now ready for the planting and cultivation of the noble vitis vinifera.


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  • Take two mugs (homo sapiens variety) — one a frustrated ex-farmer and the other someone always in need of a ‘project’
  • Locate suitable fields in walking distance of the house with good terroir (that elusive mix of soil, topography and weather) and then evict all herbivores without notice
  • Add two shovel loads of optimism and foolhardiness… and keeping shovelling
  • Add a large pinch of boundless enthusiasm
  • Adopt the Delphic approach: listen to all who know about vines, gather the information… and then make up your own mind
  • Add 36 months of back-breaking toil and buy in advance a course of treatments with the local chiropractor. Oh that we were still young fit men
  • Be prepared to get up in the night if clear nights bring frost in April or May (and the buds have burst) and light those bougies (French candles) to keep the chill away
  • Glug whenever and wherever: check out as many vineyards as possible when en route and never refuse to drink their fizz. Always make appreciative noises even if it is dire
  • Mix all these ingredients and bring up to a gentle heat, stirring gently over many months.
  • Find a winemaker who has panache and who will make the fizz that you like. With a great deal of good fortune and 5 years graft the end product should be bottles of hand-crafted English fizz for consumption on any occasion
  • It you want to make a small fortune out of owning a UK vineyard……….start with a large one.
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