Hush Heath is looking to the future, and seeing no sign of the thirst for English wine abating. With that in mind the small Kentish brand has expanded, adding in 130 acres of vineyard and a new winery set to start production in August this year.
It’s not just the amount of wine Hush Heath is looking to expand, however. It’s also increasing how many visitors can come through the winery each year by building a new shop, a 200-seater tasting room and an upstairs terrace bar.
‘We’ve seen our numbers grow to 20,000 each year and we couldn’t accommodate the requests we were getting with the space we had. With the new building we should be able to have 50,000 visitors,’ owner Richard Balfour-Lynn told Imbibe.
The new vineyards are planted on land already owned by the family estate and will take three to four years to mature grapes for winemaking, so the growth will be staggered, but over the next five years Hush Heath will go from 150,000 bottles per year up to 500,000 bottles.
The new acreage will comprise predominantly of the three sparkling wine grape varieties already planted across much of the estate: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
‘To stay relevant we had to grow. We’ll always be a boutique winery, we’ll never be as big as the likes of Chapel Down or Nyetimber, rather I see us akin to a grower champagne. But English wine has a huge demand and is actually quite a small production on the whole. We sell everything we make. We’ve just got to ensure by expanding that it’s still a quality end product,’ said Balfour-Lynn.
Sparkling wine isn't the only focus though. Balfour-Lynn says the company is really growing the still side of the business, and sees a huge potential in the UK for still wine. In addition the cider and sparkling apple wines are seeing their demand grow too.
‘Our challenge as an industry is to maintain the quality of English wine, the global enthusiasm for which has been astonishing, and we are only at the beginning of the English wine story – rather like the Champagne houses in 1900,’ he said.
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