Tell us a little about yourselves…
Joe: My name is Joe Beckett, I’m 29 and I’m the managing director of Kinsbrook Vineyard near Pulborough.
Rebecca: I’m Rebecca Dancer, I’m 28 and I’m the vineyard’s creative and marketing director.
How did you get into the wine industry?
J: Kinsbrook is a diversification of my family’s third-generation farm in West Sussex. I was inspired by the success and scale of the wine tourism I witnessed whilst playing rugby and living in New Zealand in 2016. When I came home, we planted our first vines in 2017, with further plantings in 2018, 2019 and 2022. Today we have around 56,000 vines across three sites.
How did you locate the land? Is there anything particularly unique about the terroir in your specific area of Sussex?
J: My grandparents came to the UK from Ireland in the 1960s and set up my family’s farm. My grandad bought various parcels of land which were used for decades for arable farming. All of our sites are on clay soil, which has great nutrient and water holding potential. It helps the vines massively when Sussex is experiencing a drought period, for example, such as the one at the moment.
R: We have several vineyards as our close neighbours, including Nyetimber, Nutbourne and Stopham. We believe this will be a big advantage in the future as it creates a West Sussex wine route.
What’s your ethos in terms of sustainability and the environment?
J: Kinsbrook's ethos has always been ‘from the ground up’. Sustainability and ethical, regenerative growing practices are very important to us, from the treatment of our vineyard to the winemaking processes. Our priority is always our soil.
R: In Kinsbrook Farmhouse – our new farm shop and eatery, which we’re opening in September 2022 – we will grow as much of our own produce on site using regenerative principles in our market garden, which we’re setting up now. In the kitchen, we’ll be using a ‘farm to table’ concept, where customers are served small, creatively put-together, delicious sharing plates using produce grown on site.
Tell us about your new limited-edition release ’21’.
J: 21 is a white wine that blends three grape varieties; Bacchus, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Précoce. 2021 was a hard year for grape-growing; our yields were modest at harvest time and we couldn’t justify making our usual single-variety still wines, but we saw an opportunity to create something new instead. The grapes were crushed, de-stemmed and vinified separately and then blended. We used low-intervention winemaking techniques and it’s a vegan wine.
R: We decided to name the wine 21 as it tells the story of 2021. The label features the bare bones of our first building, Kinsbrook Farmhouse, at the time of harvest in Autumn 2021. The build suffered many setbacks due to the pandemic and it felt like a nice parallel to draw. It’s important to us to be honest and to share and celebrate every part of our journey with our customers - the good and the bad - and 21 is the perfect example of this.
Will 2022 be a good year for English wine?
R: It’s looking to be an outstanding vintage this year, which is a relief after 2021! We made it through frost season without significant damage and these endless weeks of hot, dry weather are ideal.
J: We’re planning to make several still wines this year, many of them completely new for Kinsbrook.
What are your thoughts on the Sussex PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)?
J: It could work in our advantage on an international scale to be recognised as a PDO in terms of prestige. However, I’m still on the fence about it as the PDO could bring with it a set of strict winemaking rules that could limit the flexibility that the wine industry has currently.
R: I think the exciting thing about it is the thought that Sussex is ‘on the map’ so to speak – it says great things about the quality of wine being produced in this area.
Can you name a few key places locally where people can enjoy your wine?
R: We sell almost all of our wine from our cellar door, but we do work with a select few trade partners. The Horsham Wine Cellar has our full range and you can find some of our range at Noble Green Wines in Twickenham and at Hawkins Bros in Godalming. You can also enjoy a glass (or a bottle) at The Ginger Fox in Hassocks and Sketch’s 3 Michelin-Starred ‘The Lecture Room & Library’.
How can people visit the vineyard?
J: Our cellar door is open every day. You can find us at Kinsbrook Vineyard, West Chiltington Road, Thakeham, RH20 2RZ. We run supper clubs and live music every Sunday afternoon through the summer months. We also run regular tours and tastings which are dog and family friendly. You can book all of this via OpenTable.
R: We’ll be opening Kinsbrook Farmhouse in September 2022 – so not long to wait!