On Tuesday this week we held our ‘annual’ event at Ridgeview Wine Estate. The weather was rather inclement, unfortunately, and indeed it was raining steadily when I arrive at 4.15. However, undaunted by such minor difficulties, we all contrived to enjoy a splendid couple of hours looking, listening, learning and then imbibing small amounts of delicious sparkling wine.
No doubt partly because of the threat of rain, a number of people failed to arrive for the 5pm start. Esther Dawson led the tour and took us first out to the vines. An attentive group of around 25 members listened as she took us through the grape production process from planting to harvesting. The vines were planted by Michael Roberts in 1995 after buying a piece of land to occupy himself in a ‘hobby’. It is a great story. He and his wife, the parents of current owners Tamara and Simon, established this vineyard which has since then led to great rewards in a very successful business.
Subsequently many people in southern England have followed and thus established the production of English wine. Michael was one of the pioneers I suppose one could say. He actually came to speak to members at a BHBPA exhibition many years ago now, to tell the story of his hobby. Since he passed on Tamara and Simon have led the company to incredible success. What is noticeable is that they are still terrifically grounded and able to laugh at themselves despite having a fiercely competitive nature.
We went inside and listened as Estie showed her great knowledge of wine production and the many processes involved. The company is in the middle of a very large increase in production capacity; the new building which is in progress on the site has a cellar equally large beneath it. In total they will be able to store one million bottles of sparkling wine in that building eventually.
Of course, the whole business is very much dependent upon the weather, which causes them to have good years and less good years. The summer of 2012 was one they particularly remember as being a bad one for the grapes. A small display shelf in the tasting room displayed some of the many trophies the company has won over the last ten years. The most prestigious and important one was there – International Winemaker of the Year 2018.
We tasted several different wines and listened as Tamara described tastes and the subtle differences between them, A small display shelf in the tasting room displayed some of the many trophies the company has won over the last ten years. The most prestigious and important one was there – International Winemaker of the Year 2018.
After two hours in very pleasant company we gradually left for home. My thanks once again to Tamara and the Ridgeview family for hosting the event, to all those who came along and to Esther for her excellent tour guidance. As always, it was noticeable that the members were unfailingly inclusive, enthusiastic and courteous – a great bunch of people.