Like so many small wineries, Oxney is the living and hard-working dream of a couple, Kristin Syltevik and her partner Paul Dobson who gave up their former careers to become farmers and wine makers.
Kristin is a Norwegian who came to London when she was 18 to work as an au pair and stayed to study marketing and business. She then worked in the PR industry where she was so successful that at just 31 she became Managing Director of Miller Shandwick, then four years later, in 2000, founded Hotwire, a media agency that within just a few years progressed to nearly 200 employees based in offices around the world. In 2007, Kristin and her business partner sold Hotwire and after five years running the company for its new owners, she left to concentrate on the farm she had purchased in East Sussex in 2009 with the proceeds of the Hotwire sale. That farm is now Oxney, so named after she bought a neighbouring farm on the opposite side of the Kent Ditch on the Isle of Oxney.
Paul, a retired former professional golfer, runs the arable part of their 243 hectare (600 acre) fully organic farm while Kristin is responsible for the vineyard, winery and holiday cottages.
Kristin and Paul may be fairly new to farming but are hands-on to the extent that the two of them personally installed the 68 kilometres (43 miles) of deer and rabbit perimeter fencing, comprising many thousands of stakes and posts that protect the vineyards. Paul now also contract farms for other organic farmers in the area.