French winery takes on English vineyard

A couple who set up their own winery in the French region of Languedoc are  crossing the channel in a bid to produce “world-class” English sparkling wine in Kent.

Charles & Ruth Simpson, Simpsons' Wine EstateRuth and Charles Simpson set up Domaine de Sainte Rose winery in Languedoc in 2002 and released their first 2012 sparkling Chardonnay in November 2013.

Now they have set their sights on the English sparkling wine market with plans to plant their first 10 hectares of vines in Kent this May.

“We chose Barham in Kent due to its high number of sunshine hours and its proximity to the coast”, said Ruth.

“Our two vineyard sites are situated on south-facing, free-draining, chalky loam soils, identical to those in Champagne which is why we will be planting four different clones and two different rootstock for each of the three Champagne varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.”

Charles added: “Our goal is simple, to add to and set new standards in the fast-growing and increasingly admired world of English Sparkling Wine.”

Based on the success of their first Domaine Sainte Rose release the couple have quadrupled the volume of sparkling wine produced to include a Blanc de Noir Reserve and a Rosé.

The couple intend to produce a similar range of products from their vineyards in England with the first release likely to be in 2018.

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