Buy Hambledon Vineyard English Sparkling Wine online
Hambledon is England's oldest commercial vineyard. During the summer of 1951 Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones was looking out of the dining room window of Mill Down House with his stepson John thinking about what to do with the field directly beneath them. As Sir Guy was a keen wine lover and Francophile, having spent time as a diplomat in Paris, John suggested he might consider planting a vineyard?
The seed had been sown and Sir Guy began researching the feasibility of planting vines on the south-facing chalky slopes surrounding the house in Hambledon on the South Downs. After careful deliberation, and with the help and advice from friends at the renowned Champagne House Pol Roger, he planted a number of different grape varieties in 1952 and went on to release the first commercial range of English wines.
Winemaker Bill Carcary joined the Hambledon team in 1966 and the wines soon drew a strong following, winning a number of awards and even a Gold Medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 1984. The wines were served on the QE2, in British Embassies around the world, in the Houses of Parliament and in export markets around the world including the USA and Japan. On one occasion during a visit to Paris, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd served Hambledon wine to President Pompadour during a reception at the British embassy in Paris. The story behind this wine being served involved Stephen Spurrier MW (famous for the Paris Judgement of '76) and an interesting interaction with French customs.
Sadly, following a change of ownership, wine making activities were curtailed at Hambledon in the mid 1990s and the vineyard was shrunk to just four acres, producing grapes for sale to other wineries. Hambledon was reborn in 1999 when Ian Kellett bought Hambledon Vineyard. As a passionate wine lover, Ian was intrigued by the winemaking heritage of the property. After analysing the commercial potential for English wine, he began studying oenology at Plumpton College in Sussex with a view to restoring Hambledon to its former glory.
Research convened him that sparkling wines were the future and in 2005 Ian planted a 10-acre 'test bed' of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to see which of the 27 different combinations of vine clones and rootstocks gave the best results. A team then traveled from Hambledon to France to meet Hubert de Billy, son of the chairman of Pol Roger, to revive the former relationship with the esteemed Champagne House.
Today the Hambledon estate comprises 50 acres of vineyards and a new gravity-fed, state-of-the-art winery - the only one of its kind in the UK. In 2011 the final piece of the jigsaw slotted into place with the appointment of one of Champagne's leading chef de caves. A renowned expert in minimal-intervention winemaking, Hervé Jestin now directs all winemaking at the Estate.