Chilford Hall Vineyard
Aspect. The Chilford Hundred Vineyard is situated on a south-west facing slope, which ensures the vines enjoy the maximum sunshine during the relatively short summer and is protected from the cold north and easterly winds in winter. The present area is 18 acres excluding an area of experimental cultivation to find other vines suited to the English climate.
Soil. A rare thistle, which is protected, grows just below the vineyard and is evidence that the glaciers of the last Ice Age reached a point just about where the vineyard is situated, producing a variety of soil conditions. The vineyard is divided roughly into two, one part being flint-bearing loam over chalk, and the other being gravel over sand. Both these soil conditions, being free draining, are ideal for vines.
Cultivation. The first vines were planted in 1972 according to the Lenz Mozer system of wide spacing of the rows. This assists growth by allowing a larger leaf area to catch the sunlight thus sweetening the grapes. It also allows the roots to spread wider giving each vine more soil space which helps to prevent disease by allowing a good air flow through the row and around the vine itself. By taking care we can avoid using insecticides; our ladybird population keeps the insects in check. However, we do use some herbicides and a tractor-mounted hoe to keep the weeds at bay under the vines. Fungicides must always be used, although we avoid excessive spraying and vary our spray programme to suit the conditions of the year.
We grow Muller-Thurgau, Ortega, Huxelrebe, Schonenburger and Siegerrebe vines for a mix of good cropping and intense flavours. They also crop early so that we may pick before autumn sets in. Winter frosts are not in the main dangerous as the vines are dormant, however frost in late spring can do serious damage.
THE WINE MAKING
To ensure the highest quality, the grapes are harvested by hand and transferred as quickly as possible to the old farm buildings which have been transformed into the winery. The vinification takes place under expert control with all processes Ð pressing, fermentation, blending and bottling Ð taking place on the estate to allow quality to remain a priority. Some three or four months after the grapes are picked the wine from each variety is tasted and selected for blending. This is done by the proprietor and the wine maker. After blending the wine is allowed to rest for approximately six weeks prior to bottling. The characteristics of Chilford are its good clean flavour, fragrant nose, fruity body and good acidity: a single-estate wine of fine quality.
Visitors are welcome between 11am-5pm from May 1 Ð October 31, seven days a week.
Information supplied by Chilford Hundred Vineyard