Kent wine maker: Gusbourne

Charlie Holland, Gusbourne (photo: Charlie Clift)

Charlie Holland, Gusbourne (photo: Charlie Clift) - Credit: Archant

We speak to Gusbourne’s about the winery’s place as one of Kent’s top wine producers

How did you get started out in the industry?

I always wanted to work somewhere warmer than the UK, so my first experience was as cellar hand in Australia back in 2000. I was then lucky enough to spend many years travelling and making wine in some beautiful places around the world. Eventually my path lead me back to England where I was able to bring all of the skills I had learnt in other countries and put them into practice here in Kent.

Describe a typical day at work

As both head winemaker and ceo at Gusbourne, my job is extremely varied and no two days are the same. This could involve anything from tasting and preparing blends for bottling, buying equipment for next harvest or showing guests around the estate.

The most hands-on element of your job?

Harvest is our busiest (and most exciting) time of the year and it is important that everyone gets stuck in. This could mean picking grapes, loading the press or cleaning out tanks.

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Your proudest achievement to date?

There are so many, but having our wine served at Buckingham Palace has to be a highlight.

Your favourite wine and food pairing?

Whitstable oysters or Rye Bay scallops with Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs – Kent produce that seem to be made for one another.

Describe yourself in three words

Measured, passionate, creative

What is special about your brand?

We believe that the only way to ensure the quality of our grapes is to grow them ourselves. We have 14 different vineyard sites, each with up to 40 different clones. Where possible we pick, press and ferment each block and may have up to 200 individual components. Each component has a different character and style. Our job is then to create wines that reflect the place they are grown and let the grapes very much speak for themselves. While many English vineyards are based on chalk, our soils are varied and comprise of clay, silt and sand. While this goes against conventional thinking, this unique soil is becoming known for producing exceptional, award-winning wines.

What do you envisage for English wines in the next five years?

English sparkling wine is now known for its quality in many countries around the world (Gusbourne is now available in 16 countries and represents a third of our sales), but this is a relatively new situation. Over the next five years the reputation of English wine will continue to grow in stature and will increasingly become a must-have fixture on any international wine list.

www.gusbourne.com