In May 2008 we planted 2700 Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines which we will make into sparkling wine. Our first real harvest will be in 2010 and the first wines should be ready a year and a half later.
This year we hope to put up our trellising and also to plant 500 more vines to fill in a small gap at the side of the field. We are going for more Pinot Meunier and a tiny amount of Bachus to make a little still wine.
Why Aller Hill? - most importantly it is south facing so that you get the maximum benefit of the sun late in the summer. It is also Calcerous Clay on a Limestone base which happens to be the same as the best white wine producing parts of burgundy. Lots of people speculate about minerals in soils affecting wine taste and quality - what the French call Terroir. I think that the most important thing is actually how the soil drains as this affects whether the vines produce wood or grapes. What we are trying to do is to keep the soil as alive as possible by keeping herbicide use to a minimum and encouraging diversity by planting a range of grasses similar to those that we have on the rest of the land. Rainfall also seems relatively light here which is important so that the grapes aren't diluted at harvest time. We are taking measurements and it will be interesting to see whether this is true.
The story so far in pictures, start with soil