Chris’s 2019

by Chris Haywood

Jan 05

2019 was our third vintage here at the vineyard. We are pleased with what we have acheived so far, but there is still so much more to come.
There is a lot to cover, so in this blog Chris talks about his experience of 2019:
2019 was the year when we could begin to imagine what ‘settled’ would look like. Our shop is now built and mostly finished. Our winery has been used for the first time. We’ve bottled our first vintage. And this was the year that our house(s) would finish being refurbished.
2019 was the year to shift down a gear and settle into the ride. At least a little bit.
My first half of the year focussed around blending and bottling the 2018 vintage. Aside from a couple of mischievous tanks, the winemaking went incredibly smoothly. Huge yield (for us), exceptional quality, and the freedom to take our time and mull over every decision. If you’ve tried any of the 2018 vintages (Branwen, Kerner, Bacchus), I hope you’ll agree that we succeeded in making wines that are at least as good as those made under the previous owners. Winning silver medals for both of our entries at the Wine GB West Awards was an incredible feeling. Coming up in 2020, we will see the release of 2018 Severn Vale, Madeleine Angevine, plus a couple of new exciting additions to our range – Sauvignon Blanc, and Orange Kerner. The wine release schedule is never ending!
At this point, I’d like to thank all of the people that contributed to the vintage. Our fantastic, supportive team of pickers, those who went the extra mile and offered to help us in the vineyard, Brad from Majestic Worcester, and Helen & Matthew from Lumiere for helping us in the winery, our two work experience helpers, and of course Simon Day from Sixteen Ridges for holding our hand through the winemaking process. We are, and will always be, grateful.
Then Summer arrived, and we were greeted with wave upon wave of vineyard tours. It was amazing, and still one of my favourite jobs here at the vineyard. Me and my dad always say that telling our story to 16 eager faces every week instils us with a great amount of pride for what we have achieved. Its very easy to forget all of the work that has led up to this moment, and so these 2 hours allows us to revel in, and relive our experiences thus far.
In 2020, we want to keep up the success of our tours. We have limited pre-booked vouchers to 300 as demand far exceeded supply (we’ve almost sold out already!), and have also decided to introduce a tour for everyone who has already visited us. Our Returner’s Vineyard Tour is a continuation of our story, and will hopefully scratch the itch of everyone that is still eager to learn. New wines, new content, same fun and passion.
My niche within our business, aside from the above, is that I deal with our trade customers. From local farm shops who wave our flag within the local community, to restaurants 4 hours away, each and every one helps raise vital awareness of our business. Honourable mentions must go to Alchemilla in Nottingham who featured our Bacchus 2017 on their tasting menu throughout the summer (and have since won a Michelin Star), Grace & James in Birmingham for their continued support since they opened, Land Restaurant in Birmingham for the way that they promote us and have sold incredible quantities of our Branwen recently, and Wine Hub in Devon for the work that they put into visiting us and selling our wines. Thank you, not only to these few businesses, but of course to every one else who has decided to support us. You know who you are.
And what of next year?
The 2019 wines are of course a large part of my next 6 months. I foresee a delicious Sabrinna and Madeleine coming out of this year, as well as another vintage of Orange Kerner…if all goes to plan. Tours will undoubtedly be significant, and I would also like to push the corporate/private tasting side of things; simply for my own amusement! Our ideas and aspirations are never ending.
And very finally I must celebate my amazing family. I am continually impressed and humbled by their drive and talent. The sheer abundance of ideas that we all have gives me great hope for the future. We’re not finished yet!
Thank you for your support, and thanks for reading my essay!
See you again, and have a great 2020,

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