During the early 1980's some Roman wine containers were discovered on the site which was proof of wine production in this area during these times and was one of the reasons why Wickham Vineyard was created. So, in 1984 further investigation into the suitability of the area was carried out and 6 acres of vines were planted. This has now been increased to 18 acres in the 40 acre estate and further plantings are in the planning stage.
We grow ten different grape varieties here which include Pinot Noir, Rondo, Triomphe and Dornfelder for the reds and Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Faber, Wurtzer, Schoenburger and Kerner for the whites. Work in the vineyard continues throughout the year with pruning commencing straight after the harvest and maintenance needed to be carried out including pest and disease control. Its very hard work and labour intensive but the rewards are fruitful when the wine is finally ready for drinking.
The topogrophy of the vineyard consists of gentle south facing slopes. This is necessary in the northern hemisphere as it exposes the grapes to maximum sunlight which helps with ripening. The trellis system we use is the Geneva Double Curtain which was developed in the US during the 70's. This system is excellent for lower yielding vines as it can increase yield by up to 50%.
The soil we have here is a mixture of chalk, gravel and clay. This mix is ideal for viticulture as it has excellent drainage and mineral content. Throughout the south coast of England where the majority of vineyards are situated, we have the same soil as the Champagne region in France making it perfect for wine production, particularly sparkling wine.
The nature reserve consists of 7.5 acres of unimproved woodland and wetland. The area of marshy grassland supports a wealth of meadow flowers and a new pond was excavated in 1991 to provide additional habitat to the already abundant wildlife. You are welcome to visit the reserve at no extra charge where you will see amongst others the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawks as well as many other smaller birds. Deer are also frequently seen in the area. If you do wish to visit it can get quite ''boggy'' so you may wish to bring wellies with you.
The winery is housed in a converted barn which dates back to late 1800's. It is one of the most well equipped wineries in the country with temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels which are used to age our Fume and the Special Reserve Red. Although the vineyard is the most important area of our production as you cannot make good wine from bad grapes, the winery is the centre of our operations and where the hard work really begins after the grapes have been picked. Keeping this area clean and sterile is extremely important, so great care and attention is used to ensure that any equipment we use, including pumps, hoses and tanks are free from any foreign bodies which can spoil the wine.
We currently produce around 80,000 bottles per year although this is growing year on year and our wines have quickly become renowned for their outstanding quality. Great care is ensured with the growing and wine making and together with the finest high tech equipment has helped us to produce world class wines, winning many awards at both national and international competitions.