Grange farm in Hampshire is a family owned arable and beef enterprise run by Augusta and Robert Raimes. The farm lies on chalkland of the River Itchen catchment, which has SSSI on account of the Trout, Salmon and Otter residing in the streams.
UK farmers are frequently looking at ways to diversify and with two small fields at nearby Cheriton the Raimes decided to utilise them for viticulture. Augusta trained at Plumpton College and in 2011 they began planting ca. 13,000 vines to create a 3.4 ha vineyard on shallow chalky soils. With the intention from the outset being to produce English Sparkling wine, they chose the classic Champagne cultivars of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier.
They completed their first harvest in 2013 and the grapes were then sent to nearby Hattingley Valley for vinification. The Raimes Sparkling Blanc de Noirs 2013 was bottled in July 2014 and is planned to be released in 2017 after 26 months on lees.
Social media feed from Raimes Sparkling suggests that considerable care has been taken thus far in the vineyard. The highly experienced Kevin Sutherland of Bluebell Vineyard has given assistance and Emma Rice who's in charge of winemaking at Hattingley Valley was the UKVA Winemaker of the Year in 2014. These factors indicate that the winemaking operation has been given due care and attention and that Raimes Sparkling will, in the near future, be a small but potentially exciting English Sparkling Wine producer.
(Images © Raimes Sparkling)