Nestled in amongst the winding lanes and picturesque countryside of rural Hampshire, tucked away in the little villages of Lower Wield and Hattingley, sit the Hattingley Valley Winery and Vineyards. To the passer-by, you might hardly notice they were there, but behind the scenes are the workings of one of England's most successful wineries…
Now we don’t like to brag, but it is a fact, that over the years Hattingley Valley has won over 160 industry awards and 14 trophies for its English still and sparkling wines. We have been commended for our innovative and dynamic approach to winemaking and our premium English wines are enjoyed throughout the UK and internationally, exported to 16 countries and counting!
We’ve been crafting our premium English Sparkling for over a decade now, that's why, this year we are delighted to be celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary since the release of our first (ever!) vintage. Join us as we explore the history of Hattingley Valley and mark this auspicious occasion by recounting some of our greatest achievements since our conception in 2008.
When did Hattingley Valley start making English Wine?
In a time of financial instability, when many farmers were looking to diversify their land in new ways, Simon Robison our chairman began his journey into English winemaking. Already, a Hampshire landowner (and of course a wine lover!), Simon began the search for the perfect plot to plant vines. After countless biodiversity and land surveys, he found the ideal plot on his land for planting vines, the aptly named Chalky Hill site.
South-facing, with a good aspect, no frost pockets and sitting on the chalky bedrock of the south-down plateau, Chalky Hill was selected and in 2008 the first vines were planted. By 2010 a disused chicken farm in the adjacent village had begun its transformation into a state-of-the-art winery, under the guidance of newly appointed head winemaker Emma Rice.
Our First Release of our English Sparkling Wine
After planting, vines require a minimum of two years to develop before producing suitable fruit for winemaking, the reality is that it takes many more before the vines reach true maturity and produce fruit of a high quality. Therefore, patience became our virtue as we eagerly awaited the readiness of our first harvest. Similar patience is required in the production of premium sparkling wines made in the Traditional Method, where the wines undergo a minimum of 9 months of ageing on the lees; our premium sparkling wines are on lees for anything between three and seven years, but this is just one step in the process (as they say, all good things come to those who wait!).
Our journey from grape to glass began with our first harvest in 2010, marking the inception of our very first wine. In 2013, we proudly introduced our Classic Cuvée to the world. A classic blend of the champagne grapes: Chardonnay 48%, Pinot Noir 33% and Pinot Meunier 17%, with a touch of Pinot Gris 2%. This wine showed well-developed aromas, with delightful toasted notes and subtle creaminess from oak ageing. It was awarded a gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards, a triumph for it's debut.
In 2017 our Classic Cuvée changed its name to Classic Reserve NV as we began to build on our stores of reserve wines and blend in different vintages, to create what is now, our very Hattingley House style.
Growing the Hattingley Valley Dream
From the very beginning, Head winemaker Emma Rice had the vision to grow the winery by offering client winemaking services to local growers, who perhaps did not have the infrastructure to have their own winery, or who simply wanted to specialise in viticulture alone. This not only encouraged local support of Hampshire grape growers but ensured the growth and development of the winery, year after year. Our Custom Crush lab facility on site allows our winemakers to take samples and get real-time results. This year our winery has grown to an impressive 650-tonne capacity.
Climate has been another factor in the rapid growth of viticulture in England over the last ten years and beyond. With increasing temperatures during the growing season, the success of the Champagne grape varieties has greatly improved and with it the vision for the future of Traditional Method winemaking in England.
Hattingley Valley has always committed to upholding sustainable practices wherever possible in the Vineyard and throughout the winemaking process. When developing the winery Emma Rice and the team had the foresight to install solar panels and water recycling solutions in the Winery. During harvest, the leftover grape skins from the pressing process are recycled either to be used for cattle feed or to be put back onto the land to enrich the soil. Of course, there is always more to do and we strive to continue to look forward and develop more sustainable practices in the future.
Hattingley Valley has long been expanding both our domestic and international markets. Since being listed in Waitrose in 2015, we have continued to grow our presence at home, in the same year we began our export journey. By 2016, we had our first listing in America with our English sparkling wine becoming available in Whole Foods stores across 43 states in the U.S, a significant accomplishment for our exports.
In 2019, we had the privilege of partnering with British Airways to create a bespoke wine, to commemorate their 100th anniversary. This collaboration was a great source of pride for us, particularly as the wine was exclusively served in their first-class cabins worldwide. Our relationship with British Airways has flourished since then, and our wine can still be enjoyed in all of their first-class cabins and lounges today.
A New Head Winemaker
In 2022 we said our heartfelt goodbyes to Emma Rice as she handed over the reins to our new Head winemaker Rob MacCulloch MW. If you don’t know, an MW or Master of Wine is one of the highest professional standards you can reach in Wine Education and is notoriously the hardest professional exam to pass (at last count there were only 416 of them in the world!). Rob came to us well travelled bringing with him the expertise gained from vintages in Australia, California, Germany, South Africa and New Zealand. As a child, he lived just up the road from Hattingley in the market town of Alresford and has returned to continue his wine journey, where it all began. Coming up to his second harvest here as Hattingley his expertise is guiding us in what will be one of our largest-ever harvests in 2023, we are certainly very lucky to have him!
The Anniversary Bottle
In celebration of this momentous occasion, we have crafted the Limited Edition 10-Year Anniversary Bottle of our Classic Reserve NV Magnum. This exclusive offering is designed to commemorate a decade of innovation and excellence in the art of winemaking here at Hattingley Valley.
With our signature motif, the silver-washed fritillary butterfly taking form as the label, this bottle is a reminder of our commitment to maintaining biodiversity and practising conscious land management in our vineyards. The butterfly has also become synonymous with the Hattingley brand as we have grown and evolved over the years.
So, whether you are a collector, connoisseur or simply looking to celebrate in style, our Anniversary Magnum is more than just a special bottle, it’s a piece of Hattingley history in magnificent Magnum format. Keep an eye out for our limited edition bottle on our website and raise a glass with us as we celebrate a remarkable chapter in our Hattingley History.
An Exciting Time for English Wine
With well over 900 commercial vineyards and more popping up all the time, British wine is certainly growing at rapid speed. Indeed, Viticulture is the fastest-growing sector of the Agricultural Industry with over 12 million bottles produced last year, which is expected to increase to 25-29 million bottles by 2032. The demand for English Wine has also grown with an increased consumer focus on quality, sustainability and buying local. Wine GB has also highlighted significant growth in wine tourism both domestically and internationally.
At the moment this swings in the favour of English Wine producers and increased demand looking to the future. We believe there's more than enough room in English Wine for producers big and small. That's why we are a member of Vineyards of Hampshire, a collective of local producers to support and promote our county.
People often ask why ‘Traditional Method English Sparkling’ doesn’t have a name of its own, akin to other regions using this method: Champagne, Cava, Franciacorta, Cap Classique and more. And it’s not been from a lack of trying! There have been countless suggestions and proposals made to christen this category, all to no avail. However, our chairman, Simon, articulates the concept eloquently: He envisions a ‘Glass of Hattingley’ becoming a household name in your local pub or restaurant and the brand being synonymous with its quality and style. Thereby allowing the Hattingley brand to speak for itself, this, in a way charting the course towards our future aspirations and objectives.
Of course, we would not have come this far without loyal customers like YOU! Who buy our wine, drink it in pubs and restaurants and of course in the comfort of your own home! We’d like to thank you for all your support on what’s been a rather remarkable journey.
If you’d like to learn more about the Hattingley story and see some behind-the-scenes action of our 650-tonne capacity working winery we’d love to host you for a visit, either for a Winery Tour and Tasting, or for something really special your very own private tasting or event!
So, raise a glass with us as we celebrate the milestone of 10 years since our first release, cherishing the memories and achievements that have shaped our remarkable journey. Here's to the next decade of excellence and innovation at Hattingley Valley! Cheers!