A taste for education

A Sussex school is one of the first to successfully produce its own wine, having established and maintained its own vineyard over four years ago

Buckswood school has this year bottled its own wine from grapes grown on the school’s vineyard. Located on the estate, the vineyard produced wine which was bottled 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. The grape variety ‘Ortega’ was selected with the aim of producing a dry white wine. With the variations in the weather over the course of the last four years, the vineyard has grown and established itself as a fine crop. The first harvest was turned into 500 bottles of ‘Time for a Vine’, which has been sold at various school events, 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.

“The idea for the Buckswood Vineyard was born out of the combination of the excellent local grape growing conditions on our Sussex coastal estate and the desire to give all the Buckswood scholars yet another opportunity to experience the world hands-on. In science, business, art and geography – there is a chance for every academic discipline at Buckswood to use the project as a resource.”

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 of wines produced in Kent and Sussex being awarded commendations in the international wine challenge has more than doubled in the last five years. Indeed, an English sparkling wine was named ‘the world’s best bubbly’ in 2010, and at half the price of its French rivals. It is even rumoured that vineyard bosses in Champagne are now scoping the South Coast for opportunities to take advantage of the soil, altitude and climate.

The temperature on the south coast has risen significantly over 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. Furthermore, 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 has trebled since 2012 and many leading supermarkets including Sainsburys, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, and Waitrose are all stocking English wines as credible alternatives. With five-star customer ratings, they’re not just novelty tipples. This is just as well, because Brits consume over 147 million cases of wine a year, four million of which are home produced.



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