The Forest Foodie Meets... Brook Hill Vineyard, New Forest
We are thrilled to be able to share a little insight into our friends Ian & Amanda at Brook Hill Vineyard in Bramshaw, New Forest. This is not like a big commercial vineyard - think a stunning family home, two gorgeous Labradors ruling the roost, a husband and wife team, and a big field where they grow the grapes.
Our partnership of working together started in the Summer last year when Amanda invited Flora along with her great friend and fellow wine connoisseur Poppy up to the farm. We were extremely honoured to have been invited up earlier in April this year to help choose the final blend for the 2020 vintage white wine. We think it's their best yet... We also then helped with the bottling which was brilliant - and we thought we would share our short (homemade!) video with you:
By now I'm sure you are dying to find out more, so here is our 'The Forest Foodie Meets...' interview with Ian & Amanda:
What are your backgrounds and how did you find yourself making wine?
Although we’ve been based in the New Forest for many years, we have also
lived in different parts of the world where we’ve always enjoyed visiting vineyards and trying the various wines that we have found. After retiring and moving to Bramshaw in 2011 we found ourselves with some land and wondered whether it would be possible to set up a vineyard in this part of the New Forest. Ian had been a biochemist and also, we both love gardening and
working outside (and drinking wine...) so it seemed the ideal project! Luckily, we knew some people at Vine-Works Ltd, a company which plants vineyards in the UK, and we asked them to come around to carry out soil analysis etc and give us some advice. A year later with their help we had 2500 vines in the ground ready to go!
There were three main aims to the project when we started:
a) can we successfully grow grapes here in Bramshaw?
b) can we make wine that people would like to buy? And
c) can we see our wines recognised in UK wine awards?
and we’re really pleased that we’ve managed to achieve all three!
What grape varieties do you grow?
We grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (classic champagne grapes) which take up half the vineyard, and we also grow Bacchus, Ortega and Pinot Gris – white grapes - for still white wine, and Dornfelder (a German red grape) which we normally use for our Brook Hill rose
How many bottles do you produce each year of wine?
We pick 3.5 – 5 tonnes of grapes a year and produce on average around 1800 bottles of still wine and 500 bottles of sparkling. A lot depends on the growing conditions each year – a prolonged late frost like this year, or very damp conditions later in the year can do some damage. On the other hand, a long hot summer like 2018 is perfect, and we had our first exceptionally good
harvest then. We can manage a vineyard of this size ourselves, with some voluntary help from family and friends – a team effort!
Where can people buy your wine?
We’re pleased to say Brook Hill Wines are now available in a selection of outlets across the New Forest, including The Sett and the Forest Park Hotel, both in Brockenhurst; Woodgreen Community Store; the Gourmet Grocer in Fordingbridge; Pages in Lyndhurst; Shallowmead Nurseries and the Solent Cellar in Lymington – and of course Brook Hill wines are also to be found in hampers from The Forest Foodie….
What makes you unique in what you do?
We’re proud of the fact that everything is done here on-site at Brook Hill Vineyard – we grow our own grapes, hand-pick them and process and bottle them ourselves in our own small winery.
Our carbon footprint is incredibly low and there are no air miles involved in getting our wines to market!
Any exciting plans for 2021/2022?
This year we are experimenting with some new products – including our first red wine, which many people have asked for, and which we hope will be available in the autumn!
What advice would you give someone else looking to follow their dream like
you both did?
Don’t do it for the money. You must have a real interest and passion in what you are trying to do (preferably both of you!). For us it’s been a lot of hard work, with setbacks and successes but we’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it and we’re still learning!