The first Nyetimber vineyard was planted on the Sussex South Downs with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier in 1988 by US venture capitalists Stuart and Sandy Moss. Producing high quality sparkling wine was always the intent of this pioneering venture, and they released their first vintage in 1993. Critical acclaim followed fairly quickly, but the property was sold in 2001 to songwriter Andy Hill. Music royalties helped fund activities and their wines continued to enjoy a good reputation under the direction of Plumpton graduate Dermot Segrue who joined in 2003 and was appointed winemaker in 2004.
By 2005 the vineyard covered 14 ha and had a production of ca. 60,000 bottles per annum. Although Nyetimber sparkling wine had by now received widespread critical acclaim amongst wine critics, it's questionable whether it could have remained as a stand-alone commercially viable operation at this scale of production.
One strong admirer of Nyetimber was a Dutch local resident named Eric Heerema. With wealth from a career in investment banking, Heerema purchased Nyetimber in 2006 and immediately began a process of acquiring land for additional vineyards. New investment has enabled considerable vineyard expansion, so that by 2014 Nyetimber had seven vineyards (5 in Sussex, 2 in Hampshire) covering a total of ca. 150 ha. New vineyards have enabled production to expand and this reached ca. 650,000 bottles in 2011. Unfortunately, England's summer the following year was so bad that Nyetimber decided not to produce wine from their poor harvest. This tough decision was taken on the advice of winemaker Cherie Spriggs and husband Brad Geatrix who joined Nyetimber in 2007.
Nyetimber gained considerable publicity in 2009 when their Classic Cuvée 2003 received the top award at the Sparkling Wine Championships, beating off competition from a number of well known Champagne houses in the process.
As befits a cmpany at the forefront of the English sparkling wine industry, Nyetimber has continued to innovate. In 2013 they released the Tillington single vineyard 2009. This was their first single vineyard sparkling wine and had a production of only 2,900 bottles, each of them individualy numbered. The following year they introduced a code onto the back label of the Classic Cuvée 2009, which enables customers to determine the bottling, riddling and disgorgement dates.
Nyetimber began exporting their wines in 2013 with Japan as the initial overseas market, followed shortly afterwards by Denmark.
(Images © Nyetimber)