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New Kent vineyard celebrates first harvest

Published:  27 October, 2016

Another English vineyard is officially open for business, having completed their first harvest and opened their winery.

On Friday (October 21), the team at the Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham, Kent, finished picking the grapes from the 10 ha of land planted in 2014.

This was followed by an official opening of the winery yesterday, (October 26), by writer and wine personality, Oz Clarke.

The Kent winery came into being after owners Charles and Ruth Simpson were awarded an RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) Growth Programme grant earlier this year to help fund the conversion of two barns into a modern winery and tasting room.

Vineyards are increasingly popping up in Kent and Sussex.

Earlier this month, South African producer Beneguela Cove purchased a golf course in Sussex with the aim of establishing it as a vineyard.

Simpsons Winery Launch Simpsons Winery Launch

Oz Clarke, who grew up in the Kent village of Bishopsbourne, said he wondered why more vines aren't planted in Kent, adding that the county probably has "more Champagne soil than than the Champagne region does".

"I've known these fields for many years. They are seriously chalky, well protected and south facing, so I have always wondered why people haven't planted more vineyards in Kent. It isn't called the Garden of England for nothing as it has always grown the greatest hops, apples, and pears, and now vines," he added.

"There's every chance that in the next generation, the greatest sparkling wines will be made here in Kent."

"We've finished our first harvest, which is happily bubbling away in our new winery," Charles Simpson said.

"This is just phase one of our plans and we're looking forward to starting phase two next year."