WE VISITED TWO FANTASTIC SUSSEX PRODUCERS
Since our last expedition, we’ve had the pleasure of visiting more local producers and trying their awesome products!!
Our trip began at the Hidden Spring Vineyard in Heathfield, East Sussex
Tucked away near Horam, the Hidden Spring vineyard was bought by David McNally and Chris Phipps back in 2015. The couple both formerly worked in IT, but since experiencing vineyards in New Zealand they felt inspired to leave the corporate world and pursue their own winemaking dreams.
The vineyard was originally established in 1986 and experienced years of successful high-quality wine production. David and Chris, took over the land in 2015 which at the time had been converted to a campsite. They expanded the vineyard site to cover all of the available land and arranged for a German tractor to come in and plant 24,000 different vines; including varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier, Bacchus and Pinot Gris.
Chris (left) is the dedicated viticulturist, in charge of everything in the field! David (right) is full time in the winery taking charge of the grapes once they have been harvested; from pressing, fermentation in stainless steel tanks and barrels, to blending and bottling. The pair talked us through the rigorous process of inserting additives for ensuring top tier flavour, which is a long trial and error series that can often end with broken bottles from the pressure build up in their sparkling wines.
The beauty of small scale, artisanal produced wine are the characteristics that set them apart from the majority of other wines. Each harvest can produce a unique flavour year to year, letting the fruit do the talking!
Make sure to visit the guys at Hidden Spring here.
We were then immersed into the full Madame Jennifer Distillery experience!
Madame Jennifer Distillery is a quirky, small-batch distillery producing amazing gin and liqueurs in the heart of Hove!
Run by biologist and chemist duo Inger & Ian, Madame Jennifer came to life after the couple were inspired from a book on craft distilling. Their dream was then ignited by a trip to the oldest distillery in Amsterdam, and, after lots of research, the distillery opened 2 years later in Poets Corner, Hove.
Walking into the distillery was like a science lab scene out of a movie! Aside from the obvious gin making contractions all across the workshop, the walls were home to countless test tubes, jars of ingredients and dried botanicals, and of course a great variety of unlabelled samples! The two stills were for sure the show stoppers; one was filled with six copper bubble plates, and the second with a vapour distillation basket for to extract the flavours from botanicals.
The distillery is really something special as the pair have a great passion for experimentation to produce the perfect spirit. Each batch is no larger than 100 bottles ensuring quality control at all times, and the hand-labelled bottles seal the deal for an all round unique end product, made with love.
The couple clearly have their own individual taste when it comes to gin, and both know what they want, so they ended up with two different signature gins ‘The Chemist’ and ‘The Biologist’ named after them! The chemist is an earthier, liquorice gin whilst the biologist has notes of fruity grapefruit peel.
They also produce a great variety of established spirits (which we were lucky enough to sample) including their gin of paradise, a smooth bubble-plate vodka, Limoncello, Amaro, and other seasonal spirits such as sloe gin and a special Christmas gin.
If you would like to find out more about the Madame Jennifer Distillery, visit them over here.
You can find all of the Hidden Spring wines over on our website. We would love to offer something special with the Madame Jennifer range so let us know if that’s something that takes your fancy, we’d love to know your thoughts! We’d like to say a big thank you to these fantastic producers for having us, it’s always a pleasure and we absolutely love hearing their stories so we can share why supporting local is so important.
Thanks for reading and watch this space for more blogs.
Phil, Louise & The Team