Jenkyn Place is the brainchild of property investor and entrepreneur, Simon Bladon. Originally from Yorkshire, Simon and his wife, Rebecca, moved to Jenkyn Place in Hampshire in 1997 and, after extensive renovations, turned their thoughts to the abandoned hop fields next to the property.
Simon, who loves a good challenge, decided to plant his first vines – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (classic Champagne grape varieties), in 2004. He planted more vines in 2007 and 2010 and has now reached full capacity in the vineyards. Jenkyn Place wines are sold in the UK and abroad and have received numerous international awards and accolades, with praise from some of the world’s top wine critics.
Dermot Sugrue is the talented young Irish winemaker behind the 2008 and 2009 vintages of both Jenkyn Place English sparkling wines, which are made in the traditional method. Dermot is based at Wiston Estate Winery in West Sussex and was formerly the chief winemaker at Nyetimber. He has also worked in Champagne, Bordeaux and India. “When I first visited Jenkyn Place, I was struck by how well-managed the vineyard was. I knew straight away that Simon was very serious about quality.”
The award-winning wines are made in the traditional Champagne method, from classic grape varieties and spend around three years on the lees before being released to the public. Quality control is paramount throughout the whole process – from the design, planting and tending of the vineyards to the actual production of the wines.
Jenkyn Place is situated in idyllic countryside and the vineyards have been created with excellence in mind and have been designed and planted to produce top quality English sparkling wines. The vineyards cover 12 acres (around 5 hectares) and are perfectly located on sheltered, chalky, south-facing slopes, 100m above sea level on the North Hampshire Downs. The first vines were planted in 2004 and previous to that, hops were grown on the site. Further vines were planted in 2007 and 2010 and the vineyards are now at full capacity with a total of 15,000 vines. The soil is greensand over marlstone which is perfect for Champagne grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
England, like many countries in northern Europe, has a marginal climate and the quality of the grapes can vary from year to year, with some vintages more challenging than others. Predictions around the world are that, with climate change and global warming, vineyards in some of the more traditional wine-growing regions may eventually become unviable whilst opportunities to plant vines further north at a latitude above 50 degrees, the normal limit for winemaking. The climate in the south-east of England is only around 1 degree Celsius below Champagne so we will no doubt see an increase in the number of vineyards in England over the next few decades. With investment in English vineyards and planting vines coming from abroad as well as at home, the future looks bright for English wine.
Jenkyn Place is an impressive Grade II listed house dating from the 17th Century – said to have been the building where the owner of White Star Lines, Harold Sanderson, a previous owner of Jenkyn Place, learned of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Jenkyn Place is now the Bladons’ family home.
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