Vineyard Blog

A delightful summer evening at Jenkyn Place

IMG_6923 Jenkyn Place
If there’s a nicer way to spend a summer’s evening than wandering the vines at Jenkyn Place in the company of owner Simon Bladon and then tasting the latest vintages of his sparkling Brut Cuvée and Rosé, I’d be hard pushed to think what it might be.

Even the drive from my home to Jenkyn Place gladdens the heart, the only main road is one that just has to be crossed and the rest of the journey is along minor roads with views over fields, oast houses and hills beyond.

IMG_6935 Jenkyn Place hand and flowers

Simon first took us around the lovely vineyard, with colour-coded roses at the ends of the rows, yellow for the chardonnay, and different shades of red for the pinot noir and pinot meunier. He showed us how to tell the pinot meunier by their pale white or silver new leaves. Some of the vines were neat from an earlier “haircut”, others were straggling with recent growth and ready for their trim in the coming days. He told how the first field was planted by hand and the second with German laser-technology – not sure whether the dead straight rows make the wine taste any different, but less back-breaking, that’s for sure! As with the other vineyards we at Wine Cellar Door have visited recently, the vines are on the cusp between flowering and fruit-set.

IMG_6968 Jenkyn Place Rabbit Fence

Rabbit fencing at Jenkyn Place Vineyard

We saw the clover growing between the vines, providing useful nutrients and the substantial rabbit-deterrent fence. Bertie, the Vineyard Dog, ran around non-stop and it was no surprise that the rabbits were keeping their heads down in his presence.

After looking all around, we retreated to the wooden pavilion for a well-earned (we liked to think!) tasting. Although production of the Brut Cuvée is the vineyard’s main aim, Simon explained how he has a very quick decision to make at harvest time on how much of the crop to use for that, how much sparkling rosé to make, whether to make anything else, such as a Blanc de Blancs and whether to sell any grapes. “Sell your lovely grapes?” we thought with horror, but Simon explained that there’s a cost to making each bottle and he has to balance how much to spend on making new wines, sustainably growing the size of each vintage, and how much to make from selling grapes he doesn’t need for his own wines. Although he currently still has a “day job”, the vineyard is a serious commercial enterprise and is likely to become his main business in the future.

Dermot Sugrue

Dermot Sugrue, winemaker at Wiston Estate.

The wines themselves are made by Dermot Sugrue at Wiston, who brings experience from France and Nyetimber and sounds like quite a character.

Jenkyn Place is not normally open to the public, so this event in conjunction with Hampshire Food Festival attracted a lot of interest and 30 or so of us were privileged to have a delightful evening, well worth the £7.50 charge.

Wines are available through Waitrose, local Surrey shops and in other shops and restaurants via distributor, Matthew Clark. The wines have only once been exported so far, to Thailand, and it was fun to sit in the evening sunshine in Surrey imagining the same wine being sipped at the Bangkok Hilton…


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