On Saturday 9th September a group of Bognor Regis ladies and one husband boarded the Sammy Community Transport bus (one of our current 2017 charities) and headed for Halnaker and the Tinwood Estate for some serious wine tasting.
The Dutch Tukker Family purchased the farm in 1985 and planted the first vines in 2007. They currently have 200 acres of land with 65 acres planted with a mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, which all do well in the flinty chalky soil of the South Downs. The Tinwood logo bears the Halnaker windmill, but is also a nod to the family’s roots in Holland.
With the (rather loud) hum of the Goodwood Revival race track in the background, we stood atop the viewing platform and surveyed the vineyard. Butlins white tent tops were to our left in the distance and we could just see the Isle of Wight through the trees on the horizon ahead.
Our wonderful host Jody took us through the growing cycle explaining that there is a rose planted at the front of every vine, alerting them early to any mould. Roses are extra sensitive and pick up disease 2-3 weeks before a vine. Between the vines they actually plant sunflowers, beans and weeds to keep the soil as nutritious as possible. Everything is done by hand including weeding and ensuring that grapes are kept dry for the October harvest. We were encouraged to assist in pruning the vines and the visual differences between the leaves was explained.
Following this exhausting talk/tending of the vines we headed back to the stylish tasting room and began sampling their three sparkling wines, accompanied with an impressive cheeseboard with honey accompaniment (a Dutch tradition.) Jody continued to educate us on the actual making of the sparkling wine and how to taste them as we downed a Blanc de Blancs 2015, Brut 2011 and a Brut Rose 2014.
The estate is beautifully manicured and with the very luxurious lodges available to stay in, bees buzzing around their hives and the drone of the spitfires above our head; we could have all stayed there all afternoon; relaxing and chatting, however we maybe would have needed a couple more bottles!