Christmas with Bluebell Vineyard

Christmas with Bluebell Vineyard

Tis the season to be jolly (well nearly!) The wines are on ice and we are beginning to feel festive so let us take the stress out of your Christmas planning and join us for one of our seasonal vineyard tours or choose from our range of memorable gifts, wine and experiences; the perfect present for any wine lover.

Seasonal Vineyard Tours

Looking for an interesting and fun venue for your Christmas get together? Join us for a private group tour and tasting at the vineyard with the option to add a delicious three course lunch to your day.

Private Group Christmas Tour and Tasting, £20pp

Enjoy a glass of fizz and nibbles on arrival, followed by a fun and informative tour of the vineyard and winery including a preview tasting of the 2018 base wines still in tank and barrel from this harvest.

Finish your experience with a tutored tasting through four of our award-winning wines in our tasting room.

£20 per person, minimum of 6 people, maximum 30 people.

Christmas Tour and Tasting followed by a three course lunch at The Sloop Inn, Scaynes Hill, £50pp

Enjoy a glass of fizz and nibbles on arrival, followed by a fun and informative tour of the vineyard and winery including a preview tasting of the 2018 base wines still in tank and barrel from this harvest. Finish your experience with a tutored tasting through four of our award-winning wines in our tasting room.

Afterwards, head to the charming Sloop Inn at Scaynes Hill for a three course festive feast. Choose from a delicious menu of 5 starters, main courses and desserts. Drinks not included. Pre-booking required. Available from 3rd December to 21st December.

Group discounts for groups over 15 people are available. Contact Bluebell Vineyard on 01825 791 561 or by email at wineinfo@bluebellvineyard.co.uk to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Runner up 'Best Drinks Business'!

We were delighted to attend the The Rural Business Awards on 23rd October and are very proud to have been awarded Runner Up in the 'Best Rural Drinks Business' category for the South East. A great nod to all the hard work that's gone in over the years - Well done team! 

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End of an epic harvest!

End of an epic harvest!

It’s safe to say that summer 2018 will go down in history as one of the best for the English wine industry. As peace resumes around the vineyard and aromas and gurgles of fermentation fill the winery, we’re taking some time to reflect on what has undoubtedly been an astonishing harvest.

The near perfect, warm, dry conditions for each of the key times in the growing season, (budburst in the spring, leading to abundant flowering in late June and fruit set in July), meant that early in the season we were expecting (with hopeful trepidation) a bumper crop heading for our picking crates. With the addition of new vines coming into production for the first time this year, we have brought more grapes in than ever, and the vineyard team, troops of smiling, local pickers and winery team have been working with maximum energy and commitment.

Most importantly, the exceptional sunshine of 2018 has brought not just quantity but tremendous quality.

Kevin Sutherland, our vineyard manager and head winemaker comments: ‘The dry and crucially sunny weather during the ripening season has meant our grapes have reached optimum sugar levels while retaining the fresh acidity which make English wines so vibrant, and which is so necessary for traditional method sparkling wines. Throughout the season it was looking like an early harvest but the continued fine weather through September and October meant that we were able to leave grapes on the vines for longer, developing wonderful fruit flavours and ripeness while remaining clean. We’ve also had perfect picking conditions!’

In the winery, Collette O’Leary, our Wine Development Manager and Assistant Winemaker takes us through some samples: ‘Early tastings during ferments are showing particularly enticing, ripe aromas with apple, stone fruit even tropical flavours in the whites and the Pinots are already showing delicious, juicy, strawberry and cherry notes.

For the first time this year we have brought in grapes from Ortega and Bacchus and hope to release these in 2019, our first still wines. We’ll have to hold out for our finished traditional method sparkling wines which won’t be released until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest but we’re certain they will be worth the wait!

Other highlights of our harvest season have included hosting trade and loyal customers for our harvest experience days. Our guests were guided through whole bunch picking of beautiful grapes in the autumn sunshine, followed by a tour of the winery with the wine press in action where they tasted the juice of the morning’s labour, before relaxing over a delicious lunch with our current releases.

Harvest ended on Friday 19th October with the last crates of grapes coming in to the winery and a well-deserved beer, ahem, English Sparkling Wine, for all!!!  

Harvest 2018 Is Here!

Harvest 2018 has officially started! We’ve brought in some early ripening Pinot Noir, Ortega and Bacchus for our first ever still wines over the past couple of weeks, but today our lovely local pickers arrived and it will be non stop action for the next three weeks.

After a small blip at 8am, upon discovering the access road to our first picking site was closed due to a burst water pipe, we’ve had an excellent start and have brought in several tonnes of quality Pinot Noir fruit so far. The mornings have been getting very chilly so we warned pickers about appropriate clothing but didn’t anticipate the need for sun cream today. Long may this glorious sunshine last for perfect picking conditions!

This unprecented summer, with perfect conditions for bud burst, flowering and fruit set has meant we have been carefully observing a bumper crop ripening over the past weeks and we’re finally here.

When we’re picking we look for only the best fruit in terms of quality and cleanliness. That means a perfect balance between sugar and acidity and free from common fungal diseases to the UK such as mildew and botrytis. Quality is assessed through berry testing for sugars and tartaric acid, tasting and appearance. The stalks of the grapes turning from green to brown are also a good indicator of ripeness.

A very important consideration in pressing the grapes is that the bubble in sparkling wine amplifies the flavour. This means that the delicate nuances and fruit forward flavours, which develop beautifully due to our long ripening season in the UK, will be very present. But the skins and seeds of grapes contain bitter oils which we do not want to be introduced into our wines. Therefore we need to treat the grapes very carefully during pressing.

We’ll be picking and pressing in whole bunches on the stalks which protects the berries for very gentle pressing of the fruit and looking forward to tasting the fruits of our labour!

2018 - a particularly fine vintage?!

Brits love talking about the weather so unsurprisingly the most frequent questions on our tours at the moment are ‘do you need to water the vines’ and ‘what impact will this extraordinary weather have on your 2018 vintage’?

As you can see from our photos our vines are luscious, green and very happy indeed! Vines love hot weather and while it has been hot for England, most vines are used to growing in hotter temperatures than we've had! They have extremely effective root systems, capable of growing over 20 feet, so even in this unusually hot summer, finding water is not a problem. Much of Bluebell Vineyard is on clay unlike the chalky soil of much of southern England so only a couple of feet under the surface you can find rich, damp soil.

We spent an enlightening morning walking around the vineyards on our home site with Kevin, our Head Winemaker to find out more:

This is the hottest, driest start to a season I can remember.  At Bluebell we haven't had any significant rain since mid-April and that is unheard of for grape growing in England. In terms of growth and ripening we are easily two weeks ahead of where we would normally be and we're already seeing 'veraisin' on some of our pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. We had perfect conditions for budburst, flowering and fruit set meaning there are now lots of bunches of grapes on the vine, and if this weather continues there is the potential to harvest grapes at full ripeness which will also mean excellent quality. 

The grapes have swelled nicely and we are expecting the flavours to be more concentrated with potentially a very exciting level of quality. Sugar levels and acidity don't rise and fall respectively in alignment so from the end of August we'll be berry testing frequently and expecting to harvest early. We have happily been free of downy and powdery mildew so far this season, but with the cooler and wetter weather predicted over the next few days we'll be checking carefully for botrytis.

Our sites at Bluebell are on varying soils of soft clay, clay and sandy loam, and sandstone as well as different aspects, so these all have impact on drainage and the resulting canopy and fruit growth. We’ve chosen not to irrigate our newly planted young vines as we want them to learn to ‘search’ for the water and develop their strong root systems. If we make it too easy for them to find water now, they will struggle in future hot years when they mature and start producing fruit.

So to recap, the vines are absolutely thriving in this weather. As always in the UK wine industry anything can happen but there's certainly speculation that 2018 could be a year of exceptional yield and quality. If only we didn’t have to wait several more years to taste the results!

Gold in Decanter World Wine Awards 2018

We're delighted that our Hindleap Late Disgorged Blanc de Blancs 2008 has recently won Gold in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2018. 

With a score of 95 it was described by the Decanter judges as 'Flinty style with struck match aromas. The palate is taut and focused, driven by finesse rather than power. Class and elegance.'

You can buy this delicious and unique wine from our Cellar Door at Bluebell Vineyard as well as South Downs Cellars in Lindfield, Symposium in Lewes and The Secret Cellar in Tunbridge Wells.

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New picnic lunch boxes available

 

Book a picnic lunch box for two with local cheese from High Weald Dairy, Charcuterie from Beal's Farm, biscuits and Chutney from Deerview. Take the picnic box out into the vineyard and enjoy overlooking the vines and ponds! £20.00

Please give us four day notice if you would like to book a picnic box. 

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Celebrating English Wine week

Celebrating English Wine week

English Wine Week starts tomorrow with Wines of Great Britain!

To celebrate we have a week of activities planned, kicking off with our Spring Wine Sale 10am to 2pm tomorrow. Drop in to the tasting room for free wine tastings and 15% discounts off cellar door prices. We will be showcasing our The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) and Decanter Awards Gold Medal winning Late Disgorged Blanc de Blancs 2008 and our Rose 2014, Joanna Simon 'Wine of the Week'.

We are open bank holiday Monday for tours and tastings 10am to 4pm. Join us at 2pm for our fun and informal vineyard tour. To book your tour visit www.bluebellvineyard.co.uk.

We will finish the week with our sparkling wine dinner with Alex Jacquemin on 2nd June. We only have two tickets left for this 5 course gourmet food and wine feast so grab your ticket fast!

Spring wine sale Saturday 26th may

Bluebell vineyard Spring wine sale 26th May

To celebrate the start of English Wine Week 2018 we are holding a Spring Wine Sale! Free tastings, 15% discounts off our sparkling wines (minimum 3 bottle purchase) and the chance to chat to the winemaking team. Join us between 10am and 2pm.

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Brighton Wine Week - 5th to 15th April

We are really looking forward to taking part in Brighton Wine Week which kicked off yesterday! There's loads going on over the next 10 days so check out Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival for information on wine dinners, free tastings and events.

For a taste of Bluebell Vineyard and our delicious wines join us at the events below:

Drop into Merkaba My Brighton for a glass of our Hindleap Classic Cuvee which is being featured as one of the wines of the week. Only £7 a glass, this wine will tickle your taste buds!

Sussex Tasting Tour at the wonderful Isaac At on Tuesday 10th. All dishes will showcase the best of the south coast on a plate, matched to wonderful Sussex wines including our Hindleap Blanc de Blancs. We've had a sneak peak at the menu and it looks incredible!

Brighton Wine & Gin festival on 15th April at Merkaba. We will be offering wine tastings of our full range so come and meet the team and learn about our Hindleap wines. The perfect way to toast the close of Brighton Wine Week 2018!

Easter opening hours

We are open on Good Friday 30th March and Saturday 31st March 10am to 4pm. We have our regular vineyard and winery tour at 11am on Good Friday and we have our Easter Chocolate & Fizz tour at 2.30pm on Saturday. We will also be open for drop in tastings both days. 

We will be closed Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (and probably enjoying a glass of Hindleap!) and will re-open Tuesday 2nd April.

Introducing our new vintage sparkling Rosé - the Hindleap 2014 Rosé.

Introducing our new vintage sparkling Rosé - the Hindleap 2014 Rosé.

We are pleased as punch with this new vintage; the 2014 growing season was almost perfect and delivered fruit with great concentration of flavours. Made from 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Pinot Meunier, this Rosé is full of strawberry and cream aromas, with a delicate raspberry and cranberry crunch. It's going to make perfect summer drinking!

The Rosé is available for tasting at our cellar door and is available through our stockists including South Downs Cellars and tengreenbottles.

Launch of Sussex Wineries

We were delighted to attend the launch of Sussex Wineries last night! Sussex Wineries is a collaboration of inspiring Sussex wine estates who have come together to promote Sussex wines, our tasting rooms and wine tourism in Sussex.

Members include Bluebell Vineyard Estates, Ridgeview WineBolney Wine EstateAlbourne EstateWiston Estate WineryStopham VineyardRathfinny EstateOxney Organic Estate.

Thanks to the wonderful Murmur Restaurant in Brighton for hosting us and for providing delicious canapes.

We have lots of exciting plans including the inaugural Sussex Wine Weekend which will take place 15th – 17th June 2018! Check out our website www.sussexwineries.co.uk and follow us on twitter @sussexwineries for more details. Cheers!

Easter Fizz & Chocolate Tour Saturday 31st March at 2.30pm

Join us for our Easter Fizz and Chocolate Tour! All the best bits of our normal vineyard & winery tour, but with chocolate tasting thrown into the mix!

We've paired our delicious fizz with a range of luxury chocolates. During the tasting you'll get the chance to assess the perfect wine match for white, milk and dark chocolate and determine your favourites.

The afternoon will start with an introduction to Bluebell Vineyard and a discussion about grape growing in England, followed by a trip to the winery and an explanation of sparkling wine production and the magic of the bubbles! We will finish with a tasting of our award-winning Hindleap sparkling wines matched to different chocolates.

Saturday 31st March, 2.30pm. Tours are £22.50 per person and must be booked in advance via our website: http://www.bluebellvineyard.org/toursandtastings/