Focussing on still wines, rather than solely on sparkling is another way Biddenden stands out (around 60% of wine in England is sparkling whilst still wine tends to rely on a good vintage to be produced).
“In still wine making, you’re looking for that perfect ripeness balanced with the acidity. Dad’s always had a saying “Make your wine in the vineyard not the winery’’. We have stuck true to this. Our signature grape variety, Ortega, is labour intensive but it seems to suit our site well, Ortega has a funny way of presenting its fruit at harvest. The leaves almost retract from the fruit allowing the sun to concentrate the flavours in the fruit,” continues Tom.
As one of the oldest commercial vineyards in the UK, the Barnes family have witnessed huge changes in our local wine scene. “In 1969, growing and making wine at Biddenden was a vision to be achieved in diversification (from an apple farm) by my grandparents. As the years progressed so did the knowledge, with more people becoming interested in growing and making wine in the UK.
Climate has certainly had an impact in harvest records. In the early years harvest wouldn’t have started until late September or early October but over the last 10 years this has crept forward with the earliest being mid-august, in 2018. This isn’t all down to climate, sharing of knowledge between other growers helps as well as our focus on agronomy”.