Wickham Manor Farm is located near the medieval town of Winchelsea and has a long history with buildings dating back to 1580. Acquired by the National Trust in 1975, one of its former residents was William Penn, a Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania. Today the 300 ha farm is run by Sally and Mason Palmer. It's a mixed farm with cattle, sheep, wheat, rapeseed, maize and, since 2006, a vineyard.
The vineyard was planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir over a 2 ha site at a cost of ca. £40k. The first vintage was from the 2009 harvest and the grapes were processed 40 km away by the experienced and well-regarded Will Davenport at Davenport Vineyard. The sparkling wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir together with 30% Chardonnay which has spent 2½ years on lees. First vintage production was a mere 957 bottles, but there are plans for production to eventually reach ca 7,000 bottles per annum.
The Charles Palmer sparkling wine 2009 was awarded a Gold medal at the Imbibe Sommellier wine awards in 2014 and received praise from critic Tom Stevenson at the Judgement of Parsons Green in 2013. Demonstrating quality through winning awards will be important for building this relatively unknown brand which is currently priced towards the top end of those being charged by English sparkling wine producers,
Three rooms are available for Bed and Breakfast accommodation for those wishing to stay on the farm.
(Images © Charles Palmer)