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Winning the Gore-Browne Trophy for the ‘English Wine of the Year’ in 1980

In 1974, at the tender age of twenty-seven I had the wild notion that there might be a future in growing grapes and making wine in the English countryside. At the time, the industry – not that anyone called it that then – was around 165-ha (400-acres) and the preserve of crusty old major-generals, wealthy farmers and a scattering of military retirees. The two dominant varieties were the early(ish) ripening Müller-Thurgau and the hardy French-American hybrid Seyval Blanc. Added to these were a smattering of old (mainly red) hybrids and a few newer German crosses: no Pinot Noir and no Chardonnay. The wines were generally dry, not always a successful style in a marginal climate where natural alcohols were low and acids high, and often thin and lacking in fruit. It wasn’t all doom and gloom and there were some good wines so ...

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