A scholarly vintage


Guestling’s Buckswood School could be the first educational establishment in the country to have its own vineyard.

The school has bottled it’s own wine, from grapes grown on the school’s vineyard located on the estate. Under the watchful eye and expert guidance of local award-winning wine producer Carr-Taylor Vineyards.

The vineyard was planted four years ago on the Guestling estate with the grape variety ‘Ortega’ being selected with the aim of producing a dry white wine.

Over the course of the last four years, with the variations in weather the vineyard has grown and established itself as a fine crop, with the first harvest being turned into 500 bottles of ‘Time for a Vine’, which has been sold at various school events, with all the profits being donated to the school’s Swaziland charity.

Speaking of the project, Buckswood Headmaster, Giles Sutton said: “Experience is the ‘Buckswood Difference’ and it is at the heart of everything we do, our soul aim is to produce young Ladies and Gentlemen that have an inner confidence and have a myriad of experiences that set them apart from their contemporaries. And so, the idea for the Buckswood Vineyard was born out of the combination of the excellent local grape growing conditions on our estate and the desire to give all the Buckswood scholars yet another opportunity to experience the world hands-on.

It has been known for some time now that the chalky soil of the South Coast has been producing sparkling wines to rival those from the finest Champagne vineyards. Vines thrive in the chalky limestone soil, and the number wines produces in Kent and Sussex being awarded commendations in the international wine challenge has more than doubled in the last five years; with an English sparkling wine being named as the world’s best bubbly in 2010 and at half the price of it’s French rivals.

Indeed, it is rumoured that vineyard bosses in Champagne are now scoping the South Coast for opportunities to take advantage of the soil, altitude and climate which are a winning combination.

The temperature on the south coast has risen by one degree Celsius a year for the past ten years, which in the world of vitaculture (or wine making), can mean the difference between a bottle of plonk and a world class vintage, and the total land being cultivated as vineyards has doubled in the last ten years.

Wine merchants Majestic, announced last month that the sale of English sparkling wine as trebled since 2012 and many leading supermarkets including Sainsburys, Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose are all stocking English wines as credible alternatives and not just novelty tipples; with five star customer ratings.

As drinkers, the Brits consume over 147 million cases of wine a year and we make around four million bottles at home.