How English wine has gone from barely existing, to reaching the top of the quality curve – and Hattingley has had a massive contribution.
In this weeks episode, listen to Simon Robinson – another amazingly passionate human who is an expert in all things vineyard and wine-making. He doesn’t just talk wine – but shares his opinion on the environment, Brexit, and the industries future.
00:00:00 Marks intro, introducing Simon and setting the scene in Hampshire
00:04:09 What was Simon’s background before Hattingley Sparkling Wine?
0:07:00 The English wine scene in 2000 – when Simon started
- 00:08:26 “If you went back 20, 30, 40 years, even, I think probably what happened was post war, some servicemen came back and decided they wanted a quiet life in the countryside. Or maybe they’ve got a bit of land, who knows? They thought that growing grapes and making wine would be a nice gentle way of passing their time…And it didn’t work”
00:10:28 Why can you make good champagne from immature grapes, but you can’t make good wine from them?
00:12:31 The science of fermentation: barrel fermentation, bacterial fermentation and malolactic fermentation
00:15:49 Why has it taken Britain so long to join in with fine wine making?
- 00:17:55 “So by the beginning of the 18th, mid 19th century, we had no vineyards, no expertise, and as a beer drinking country: very little interest.”
00:19:17 How is the UK doing in terms of wine quality?
- 00:19:22 “We’re right at the top of the quality curve. There’s absolutely no doubt about that”
- 00:21:05 “One thing that we do suffer from here is relatively low yields in the vineyard. Um, probably about half what is achieved in France.”
00:22:25 Talking awards & trophies
00:23:48 The ignorance of where wines are made, Simon says people find it difficult to believe wine is made in England too
00:25:50 Is English wine going to be able to reach the point of yield that it can compete with other wines?
- 00:27:16 “Well, if you’re growing wheat, uh, you might get three and a half to four tons an acre. In a good year, you might be up 10% or down 10%. Um, wine grapes are completely different. It’s, I call it agriculture on steroids.”
00:28:52 How bigger brands act as an entry level to people educating themselves on finer, independent brands
00:30:10 2012 was a bad year for Simon – getting 0% yield and how they handled losing 90% of their crop
00:31:46 Simon’s national impact on the industry
- 00:34:11 “Until recently, the largest market in the world outside France for champagne was the UK, which is helpful. It’s actually now the third largest, I think, second largest outside champagne. The largest is now the United States.”
00:37:06 Brexit hasn’t affected Simon’s business at Hattingley
- 00:39:29 “The EU is a rather difficult market for us.”
00:40:31 Hattingley Wines educating & training committee that is dedicated to teaching people throughout the industry
00:41:57 Working in the industry, how much there is to do and why you have to be so passionate
00:48:06 We’ve talked sparkling, how is still wine doing in the UK?
00:51:35 Comparing the wine industry in the north and south of the UK
- 00:51:55 “There is more suitable, highly suitable land in the south of England than anywhere else. There are people growing grapes as far north as Yorkshire.”
00:53:04 The outlook for the next decade in the wine industry is “glowing”
- 00:54:45 “In 16, 17 and 18, we planted in aggregate in the country about 3 million vines. Um, this year we’re anticipating another 2 million going in.”
- 00:55:46 “In 2010, our first year having a debate about 25,000 bottles, uh, in 2018, we made 580,000. Um, so you can see the growth has been substantial”
00:58:18 Simons advice if you are looking to plant a vineyard
00:59:52 How long after planting vines do you need to wait for your first harvest?
01:01:02 Talking about the environment & how Hattingley tries it’s best to help look after it
01:04:52 Which part of the business excites Simon, and makes him love what he does?
- 01:05:04 “Harvest is this such an exciting time. The wineries, abuzz with people… and one of the great things about this industry as we are creating rural employment in areas which really lost huge numbers with the decline in agricultural employment for all good reasons.”
01:06:35 How long is the Harvest period?
01:07:21 Has Simon got any advice that he has collected over the years?
- 01:08:09 “There are no problems. There’s only missing solutions. So come back to me with a solution. Not every business will succeed. Of course. Um, do your planning, uh, try and look forward, try and work out what you want to be.”
01:09:27 What’s next for Hattingley wines?
01:10:24 Marks sign off, final thoughts
Looking to learn a bit more about Simon, his gorgeous wines and how you can get ahold some? Listen to the full Podcast here, or check out Hattingley Sparking wines on their website and social channels: