In a Nutshell
From its birth as a farm diversification project back in 2008, we have grown to become one of the leading wineries in the UK, based in rural Hampshire. The Robinson family made their initial steps in 2008 by planting our very first vineyard on some of their farmland but had no idea that it would lead to where we are now. We have a 600 tonne, eco-friendly winery that was purpose built under the guidance of our then Head Winemaker, Emma Rice. Emma took full advantage of Simon’s lack of industry knowledge (and at the time, large chequebook) to coax him into buying the best equipment throughout, so now we have one of the most advanced wineries in the world, and Simon has a much smaller chequebook.
The only thing we take seriously is the winemaking, the rest, we try and have a little fun with, so expect the unexpected, embrace the unconventional, throw off the shackles of tradition and join us in some rather remarkable wines….. People used to laugh at English wine, they don’t seem to be laughing any more….
VINEYARD & PARTNERS
Hattingley has always sourced fruit from a wide range of England’s regions rather than relying on our own vineyards in Hampshire. Although England is a small country, there is a multitude of soil types and microclimates which make all the difference in a cool, marginal climate. Frost can be a major problem, so being able to spread the risk across a variety of areas is very useful.Over the past few years, we have worked with a number of established farmers who either had vineyards already or who wished to diversify from other types of farming. Growing grapes successfully is tremendously difficult in the UK, so we only choose sites that have true potential. We enter into long-term (usually ten years as a minimum) contracts to ensure that it is viable for all. The old adage of ‘you can make bad wine from good grapes, but it is impossible to make good wine from bad grapes’ remains true, meaning we work very hard to ensure that we work with only the very best fruit possible. We are now pleased to see these vineyards starting to bear fruit (quite literally) and we wanted to show you some of our partner growers..
a thank you to
Simon Robinson, Hattingley Valley’s founder, realised he needed an expert winemaker to make Hattingley Valley as good as he wanted it to be and at the end of 2008, he met Emma Rice. One of the first to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Oenology from Plumpton College, she went on to win Winemaker of the Year in 2014 and 2016 – the first woman to win this prestigious prize twice. Until 2022, Emma led our wonderfully talented wine-making team, overseeing the job of turning our grapes into premium quality English sparkling wine. Our winery was built to Emma’s exacting standards just in time for our first harvest in 2010 with an eye on sustainability and quality from the outset. Emma was lucky enough to build her dream winery, and Simon only wanted the best quality equipment installed, which we are grateful for today. It takes an average of five years to create one of our sparkling wines, so Emma’s influence will be tasted for years to come and we can’t thank her enough for getting us to where we are today, not to mention the wider English wine community. In 2022 Emma handed the reins to our Head Winemaker Rob Macculloch.
About our wine
We use the traditional method for producing our sparkling wine, but what sets our wines apart from the rest is the subtle use of oak barrels. The winery, which has a capacity of over 600 tonnes, ferments a small proportion of the wines each year, as well as ageing on lees in stainless steel tanks, helping soften the wines before they go into bottles for the second fermentation.Following the fermentation stages, the wines are aged in barrels or tanks for up to eight or nine months, then blended, filtered and bottled before commencing further fermentation and ageing in bottles. This process can take a minimum of 18 months and a maximum of seven years to mature and develop.
Chalky Hill Vineyard planted
After a site survey and soil analysis, a fantastic south-facing slope on the farm was identified for the first vineyard. This was planted using GPS guided technology in 2008.
The Chicken Shed
It was actually after Simon planted the first vineyard that his thoughts turned to what he was going to do with the grapes. Thankfully, 500 yards away from his house stood an abandoned industrial site, formally a chicken farm.
Simon showed Emma around the site and asked if wine could be made there, to which Emma responded, "yes, but not with me as your winemaker". So everything was razed to the ground, and a custom-built, Hi-Tech Winery was built on the site under Emma's guidance. (Sorry for the rubbish photos, it's all we could find!).
Designing the Winery
Emma Rice designed the whole winery from scratch, indeed every winemaker's dream, taking full advantage of Simon's generosity. Only the best equipment was chosen from start to finish, an ethos that stays with us today.
The winery was completed literally as the first grapes started to arrive in 2010. It has since grown to become a 500-tonne winery producing world-class wines.
As our production of wine grew we were able to supply larger customers and the high-quality of our wines was recognised by Waitrose where we are still available to buy to this day.
Our export journey began in 2015, with America being our number 1 focus. We found a fantastic importer and after a positive write-up in the New York Times, we were listed across America with the prestigious Whole Foods Market chain in 43 states and 432 stores, a first for English Sparkling wine.
British Airways celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 2019 and we were incredibly proud to produce a bespoke wine in partnership with them for their first class cabins across the globe. The relationship has continued to strengthen over the years and you can still find our wine in all first class cabins and lounges to this day.
When making premium, traditional method sparkling wine, everything seems to take a very long time. from planting the first vineyard in 2008, we had no wine to release until 2013. We are glad that we waited and didn't rush, as our first release was awarded a gold medal at the Decanter world wine awards.
The Story Behind
Prior to planting Hattingley’s vineyards, Simon Robinson had already commissioned a survey of flora and fauna on his farm in Hampshire, which lead to the discovery that the Silver-washed Fritillary Butterfly, common in Europe but rare in Britain, was a summer resident. The delicate eco-system in this part of Hampshire was enhanced by his planting of around seven miles of hedgerow under a countryside stewardship scheme.
The presence of such an iconic butterfly now found in our South facing chalk-based vineyard in rural Hampshire indicates that the vineyard is a healthy environment with a rich biodiversity due to the extensive farmlands around us. This is something we take great pride in and seemed a natural choice to weave into Hattingley’s brand identity.
The Fritillary isn't seen everywhere but it's a lovely thing to behold, a bit like our English sparkling wines actually...