Clayhill Vineyard

Please look through our small selection of photos and maybe you’ll get a feel for who we are, what we are, where we are and how we got there!

Text Box: Winter 2005 . . . All ploughed up.
Text Box: April 2006. Preparing the soil for planting . . . 
Text Box: April 27th  . . .  Planting starts !

12th May . . . Hoorah . . . Finished!

Text Box: VINEYARD FACTS

 The Vineyard is a 12 acre site with 10 of these in vines.

 There are 15300 vines in total and all of these were planted by hand.

Varieties planted are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, producing sparkling wines, roses` and stills.

 If you walk up and down all the rows, you will have travelled 10 miles.

 The trellising uses 3193 posts and over 50 miles of wire.
Text Box: It wasn’t all plain sailing . . . 
Weeds were a big problem!

Banging in posts, putting up first trellis wire and canes.

2008 was again hard work, pruning, more weeding, bud rubbing, weeding . . .

again, all mixed up with lots of rain . . .

For the next 3 years our lives were full of hoeing the weeds around the vines, pruning, training and bud rubbing the vines, weeding, trellising to support the vines , more weeding and spraying to control any diseases.  We will have our first harvest in 2009.

Text Box: so was the lack of rain . . .

Dale had been looking for an alternative income from the family farm when in 2004 he saw an article in the Farmers Weekly about English wines, how they were becoming increasingly popular and that the ’English Wines Group’ were looking for farmers to grow grapes.  Dale had been growing vines in his garden for a number of years and so he knew by experience that grapes could be produced and ripened on the farm.

 

After a year of talking with the family, ’English Wines Group’, site surveys, soil samples, weather records and vineyard visits in Essex & Kent, he  decided to proceed, with the intention of producing high quality grapes for high quality wines.  He felt that doing all the vineyard work by hand would help us to maintain quality and by supplying ‘English Wines Group’ and their award winning wines with our grapes, we would make quality wines.

 

Clayhill Vineyard was established on Grange Farm, Latchingdon with the kind permission of Michael and Carol Symons in 2006 by Dale and Victoria Symons. The vineyard would not be here today, were it not for the support of our parents and siblings along with the friends who helped us out when they could.

 

We did not have the most auspicious start. The grape vines did not turn up on time and then the contractor for planting was unable to plant them. This all happened whilst my wife Vicky (I was unable to go for some reason . . . . ) was at the annual Essex Beef Group dinner.  It was at 8pm with a heavy heart I called her to say we had problems.  It is at a time like that when you know who your friends are! Everyone offered us help and within a few days we had a place to store our precious vines and helpers to plant them . . . all 15530 of them . . . by hand!

 

 

 

 

More work in 2007. It was a wetter year so the vines grew nicely . . . so did all the weeds!  Lots of hard work . . Again!

2009 more pruning, tying , bud rubbing, tucking in, lots of hot dry weather and . . . Oh yes! Grapes!

2010 . . . Again more pruning, tying , bud rubbing, tucking in. dry Spring, changeable Summer and very wet Autumn weather and . . . Oh yes! Lots More Grapes!