Oxney Organic Estate

Vineyards

More about Oxney Organic Estate

Status Operational
Established: 2012
Visitor Policy: Visitors welcome some of the year
Tel: +44 (0)1797 260 137
Website: http://www.oxneyestate.com/
Oxney Organic Estate is the UK's largest single estate, organic vineyard with some 14 hectares (35 acres) of vines comprising Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Précoce, Pinot Meunier and Seyval Blanc to make English organic still and sparkling wines, mostly sparkling.

Address

Hobbs Lane
Beckey
TN31 6TU
United Kingdom

The "UK's largest single estate, organic vineyard" comprising 37% Chardonnay, 43.5% Pinot Noir, 7.5% Pinot Meunier, 9.4% Seyval Blanc and 2.6% Pinot Précoce.

Ian Parker, an ex-organic Scottish dairy farmer who retrained in viticulture, manages the 13.65 hectares (33.73 acres) under vine.

The vineyards are between 15 and 20 meters above sea level with a mix of east-facing, west facing and level land. The slightly acid soil is fine sand and silt loam over clay subsoil with the clay causing associated drainage issues which led to pipe-drains being installed at 10-metre intervals prior to the first planting of 8,455 vines by hand, across 2 hectares (5 acres) in May 2012. The three noble Champagne varieties were planted that first year: 46% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir and 18% Pinot Meunier with stakes cut from the farm's own oak. Sadly, these oak stakes proved unable to withstand the clay soil and weather so galvanised steel stakes have been used for subsequent plantings.

More vines were planted in the following years (2013, 2014 and 2018), including 1,500 Pinot Précoce (Blauer Frühburgunder) for use in rosé wine and 5,325 Seyval Blanc vines. Seyval Blanc can serve as a safety net for organic wineries as it's very resistant to disease and produces good crops in difficult years when other varieties fail.

Oxney's winemaker says, "As an organic producer, we feel really when it comes to winemaking, just like good cooking or any creative art, it's less is more. We start with nice, clean healthy grapes in the vineyard. We don't add anything. It's trying to let the vineyard express itself without getting in the way. That to me, as a winemaker, forms part of the organic philosophy, because every time you add something you take something away.

"Organic, it's broader than just not using some chemicals. It really is a philosophy. I feel it's the best path for making the sort of wines that I like to make. To me it's the broader philosophy, not just the accreditation, it's what we're doing and that involves hundreds of tiny details right through the winemaking process. It's often choosing not to do something rather than to intervene."

As part of Oxney's commitment to organic in place of fertilisers, each year farmyard manure and compost is spread over the vineyards to encourage microorganisms in the soil while weeds and grasses under the vines are managed by a combination of mechanical cultivator and hand-weeding.

Harvesting is late, typically the very end of September or the first weeks of October but optimum time to pick is governed by frequent testing of the sugar and acid levels, as well as their taste.