Since 2012, Oxney Estate has been proving that organic winemaking in England is not only possible, but can also be highly successful. The wines speak for themselves: fresh and elegant, pure and mineral, subtle yet beautifully complex, these are gorgeous examples of English sparklers.
About Oxney Estate
As with many English wine estates, Oxney was born out of passion for wine of two people who, at the start of their journey, hardly knew anything about winemaking. In 2009, Kristin Syltevik, a PR specialist and her partner, Paul Dobson, a retired golf player, decided that it was time for a life and career change.
Kristin was born in Norway and moved to London when she was 18 to work as an au-pair. She then stayed to get a degree in marketing, followed by a successful career in PR. Kristin founded and ran her own PR agency with offices around the world. She later sold the business and in 2009, the couple decided to move to East Sussex where they had previously bought a farm.
Establishing a vineyard sounded like a fun idea. Besides, the location seemed perfect – not far from the south-east coast, in the very centre of English winemaking. In 2012, the first vines were planted.
Organic approach was chosen from the beginning. As Kristin puts it, “I wouldn’t have done it if I couldn’t have done it as an organic grower.” After all, great wines are made in the vineyard.
Learning on the job proved tough, but efficient. A few years of getting to know the terroir, a few lost crops, and, finally, an understanding of what it takes to make a ripe and balanced wine in the country with the most unpredictable weather conditions.
From Vines To Wines
Today Paul runs the 243 hectare farm, while Krisin is responsible for the vineyard and the winery. The vines sit on well-draining sand and silt loam. Oxney team nurtures the soil with compost and farmyard manure, encouraging biodiversity. In addition, the vineyard work largely focuses on promoting natural disease resistance and vigour in the vines.
Just over 14 hectares of Oxney vines produce around 20% of all organic grapes grown in the UK. This makes Oxney the largest single estate organic vineyard in the country.
Oxney wine range includes traditional method sparkling, as well as still wines. A Grade II listed oast house was converted into a winery and kitted out with the latest winemaking equipment. While relying on technology, such as gentle pneumatic presses and temperature controlled fermentation, Oxney’s team believes in a low-intervention approach. Therefore, most of the wines are wildly fermented and bottled with no filtration and with a minimal use of SO2.