Supporting Hospitality Action

When we are all facing such uncertain times there is one certainty: we must stick together. With such a constant and dramatically moving landscape, we are particularly concerned for all our friends in hospitality, when all their futures changed overnight as restaurants and hotels were closed. Hospitality Action is a charity that have been supporting the UK hospitality trade for over 180 years, helping hospitality people in difficulty or crisis.

Hospitality Action (HA) are co-ordinating an industry-wide emergency appeal to support impacted workers who can apply for a one off-grant of £250 for immediate help.  This appeal has raised over £ 123,000 so far, however they are still overwhelmed with applications. The more money raised, the more hospitality workers they can support.

Ridgeview will donate £2 for every bottle of Ridgeview Sparkling Wine sold online until the end of May to Hospitality Action. All orders no matter how big or small will be delivered free of charge across the UK with £2 for every bottle going direct to the charity.

In such difficult times it is our hope that a little Ridgeview sparkling might be able to brighten up the end of your day or bring a little joy to your weekend. Ridgeview are now offering free of charge next day delivery (excluding weekends) on all bottles, no minimum quantities apply.

Join us to help support Hospitality Action as well as our small business of home grown English sparkling wine #wevegotyou

*(excludes OurView Wine Club member orders)

Ridgeview Covid-19 Update

Dear Friends of Ridgeview

As is everyone else, we are keeping informed of developments as the situation regarding Covid-19 continues to evolve. Our heart goes out those who have been affected by the virus and all our friends and supporters who face so much uncertainty.

We have been rigorously following the recommendations of Public Health England and as ever our focus is always on exceptional levels of hygiene across all areas of the business. Fortunately we have had no instances of our employees or anyone on our premises contracting the virus.

However after considering the new government updated guidelines, Ridgeview has made the following decision to minimise impact on our customers and team:

Ridgeview Tasting Room, Cellar Door and Tours are now closed to the public until further notice.

 Our priority at this time is to ensure that we can continue to produce the highest quality wine and keep our warehouse and website up-and-running to deliver to our customers.

Any upcoming Tours & Tastings will be postponed and if you have a booking with us, we will be in contact regarding this. For those that have gift vouchers that are nearing expiry, please contact us (retail@ridgeview.co.uk) so that we can ensure you are able to visit later in the year.

Our retail team continue to be available to assist with wine orders, wine club advice and general enquiries via phone, email or the Ridgeview website. Our full range of wines are also available to order online www.ridgeview.co.uk/shop with our new Complimentary Next-Day delivery service for all orders not matter how big or small!

We are all in this together and feel confident that our customers may need a little sparkle in the lives from time-to-time to see them through. We thank you for your ongoing support and loyalty and hope to welcome you back to Ridgeview very soon.

 The Ridgeview Team

Our New Winery Three is Up and Running!

We are thrilled to share with you that our new Winery and cellars are now fully operational. This will take our sustainable underground cellar capacity to over One million bottles. We still have work to do on landscaping, for it to be ready in time for our official opening in 2020. We will be celebrating Ridgeview’s 25th Anniversary in 2020 so the timing couldn’t be better.

Enormous thanks for the financial support provided by the Rural Payments Agency, using funds jointly provided by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural development and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Thanks also go out to our amazing builders, Axio (Special Works) Ltd; BLB Surveyors, the Ridgeview Project team and Clydesdale Bank. We couldn’t have done this without you all.

As a thank you we will be placing a plaque on our new winery.

Harvest 2019

Simon Roberts – Ridgeview Winemaker & Matt Strugnell – Ridgeview Vineyard Manager

Off the back of the glorious 2018 growing season which delivered fantastic quality in both yield and volume, the bar had been set very high for the 2019 vintage. The season started very well with a relatively mild winter, followed by limited frost risk in Spring and normal timing for budburst. Early growing conditions were unsettled with swings between cool and hot spells of weather, but fortunately we were blessed with great flowering weather which resulted in excellent fruit set.  The remaining summer was again a mixed bag; cool wet spells followed by mini heatwaves. Canopy management and vigilance was needed as disease pressure was high. The ripening phase probably saw the most consistent period of good weather; lots of sunshine and warm temperatures right up until the end of September.

We were then faced with one of the wettest Octobers that we can recall in our 24 year history. The challenge then became co-ordinating picking dates to avoid the rain and making sure the grapes had time to dry out before pressing. We were fortunate that our experienced enabled us to get our Ridgeview grapes in between spells of the changeable weather. Our Pinots came in first with very large bunches and good to average yield, the Pinot Meunier being a particular highlight. The Chardonnay needed a little longer on the vine and came in lovely and clean with sugars and acidity a little lower than normal. Grapes from the various sites over the South East have been variable, the earlier ripening vineyards have done really well whereas those later ripening and higher altitude have struggling a little in the wet weather. 2019 was a year when we could say experience really mattered. Our cool climate can throw us challenges and this is a year where we can proudly say that our care and due diligence in the vineyard really paid off. We have had the result of good volumes of clean grapes with nice concentration of phenolic flavours.

Start of the Home Run

BY OUR RIDGEVIEW VINEYARD MANAGER MATT STRUGNELL

We were lucky the weather was kind to us for flowering which helps determine our crop size. This all happened towards the end of June and the bunches we now see are filling out with berries. August has been a bit hit and miss, so we have been working hard to keep the vine canopy neat and tidy; by tucking the shoots into foliage ‘catch’ wires, and by trimming the tops and sides.

Tidy vines make them look great, but it also plays an important role in helping our grapes ripen to a perfect condition. By keeping the canopy neat we are reducing shade and humidity which helps reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Also, the canopy is capturing as much sunshine as possible which is essential for ripening the crop.

Moving through August we have seen the start of another change, which is veraison. This is easy to spot on the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier as the skins start to change colour from green, through pink to red. By the time they are harvested they will have turned almost black. This is not so obvious in Chardonnay, but they will start to turn from green to a golden colour and the berries start to have a more translucent appearance.

The end of veraison signals the start of ripening, and therefore we are on the home run before harvest begins. This certainly won’t be like 2018 which has been described as a once in a generation year, however it is looking incredibly promising though!

New Trophy Celebrating ‘Mike Roberts MBE’

Wines of Great Britain Annual Awards celebrate the successes of the flourishing UK Wine Industry. Ridgeview Bloomsbury NV was awarded a Gold Medal and Presidents Trophy for Best Classic Cuvee at this year’s ceremony. Members of the Ridgeview family attended the 2019 awards at the historic setting of Vintners Hall. For the first time, in honour of the memory of Mike Roberts who was the previous industry Chairman of English Wine Producers, Ridgeview sponsored a new trophy ‘Mike Roberts MBE Best Vintage Classic Cuvee’.

The new trophy honours the brand producing the best vintage classic blend, a style Mike championed from the very earliest Ridgeview vintages. It was tributed at the Wines GB Awards ceremony as ‘Celebrating Mike Roberts, Ridgeview’s Co-Founder and leading light in English sparkling wines’. Mike worked tirelessly and with passion to promote the industry as a whole. Peter Gladwin Vice Chair of Wines of Great Britain commented “The ‘Mike Roberts Trophy’ for the best Classic Cuvee sparkling might be a wonderful legacy that could be awarded for many years to come”.

Chris Roberts, Mike’s wife and co-founder or Ridgeview, attended the ceremony and was proud to award to the new trophy to Roebuck Estates for their 2014 Classic Cuvee.’. Chris commented that “The trophy is a wonderful tribute so closely associated Mikes belief that England could produce excellent sparkling wine, as good, if not better than others around the world”. On receiving the trophy James Mead from Roebuck Estates responded “We were beyond delighted to receive such a huge accolade in honour of Mike who was such an inspiration and iconic figure in the English wine industry”.

Mike’s son-in-law Simon Larder who also works in the family business and attended the ceremony remarked; “Being five years since we lost Mike it is an appropriate moment for his position in the industry to be remembered, recognised and rewarded. There have been huge changes in the industry which have only come about due to his initial energy and commitment to the sparkling wine cause in England. Others may win the ‘Mike Roberts Trophy’ but there’s only one King of Fizz.”

A further new accolade was announced – the first Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chris Foss, recently retired Head of Wine Studies at Plumpton College, who founded the department 31 years ago. Ridgeview have worked closely with Chris Foss during his time at Plumpton. Chris has been instrumental to the training and education of the growing English Wine industry.

The 2019 competition was sponsored by two main partners – Waitrose & Partners, a long-standing champion of English and Welsh wines, Ridgeview are proud partners of Waitrose selling their Ridgeview Bloomsbury NV and helping produce Waitrose own label Leckford blend. The awards were also sponsored by Rankin Brothers & Sons, a leading manufacturer and supplier of bottle closures to the winemakers of England and Wales who Ridgeview work closely with.

What is Cellar Door?

BY OUR RETAIL AND EVENTS MANAGER, HANNAH SIMPSON-BANKS

A vineyard shop, tasting room, bottle shop or wine bar … at Ridgeview we hear all manner of phrases used when talking about our facilities. The term that resonates most strongly with us however is “Cellar Door”. The term “Cellar Door” quite simply comes from the history of wineries past, when wine samples were first offered for tasting from winery premises. Whilst the name has stuck, the setting of our informal samplings and tastings has come on since the early days of the Cellar Door – don’t expect to be tasting wines in a darkened underground room anymore!

At Ridgeview our Cellar Door has the benefit of being separate from, but with great views of, our winery and has a spectacular vista overlooking the vineyards and gorgeous South Downs beyond. Our cellar door is the place to come for a glimpse behind the scenes, to try our award-winning wines for yourself with complimentary tastings, meet our passionate team or learn more about our history and how we make our wines with our ever-popular wine tours.

One of the greatest benefits of a cellar door though, is the ability to “try before you buy”, offering you the opportunity to compare different grapes, blends and vintages, you can explore your personal preferences and discover new favourites. To get the most out of your tasting ask questions – there’s no such thing as a silly question and we love talking to our visitors about all things wine! The cellar door is more than just a place to experience wine though.

At Ridgeview we also curate a range of exclusive special events throughout the year designed to give our visitors another way to experience Ridgeview. From Yoga Brunches to Chef Pop-ups and even our own music festival, we aren’t afraid to break the mould of what might be considered a “traditional” vineyard and winery offering.

And to leave you with one piece of advice, next time you encounter a cellar door, don’t be afraid of simply turning up and saying “Hi, I’d like to taste some of your wines! How do tastings work here?” because after all that is what we’re here for.

Time to Bloom

BY OUR RIDGEVIEW VINEYARD MANAGER MATT STRUGNELL

At this time of the year the vineyard takes on a very different appearance. The shoots are rapidly forming a full-height canopy, making the vineyard look a lot greener than it was a few weeks ago. It has been said that you can almost hear the shoots growing.

Now the risk of damage from spring frost is past, the next critical stage that the weather affects is flowering. The bunches are now formed and the flowers are nearly ready to open; each flower can potentially become a berry. This can begin at any time from mid-June to early July. The flowering period can last anything from a few days to a few weeks. The time that the process starts and the period it lasts for is largely down to the weather. If it is warm and dry, then flowering will start earlier and take less time to finish, whereas cooler weather will delay the start and prolong the flowering period.

The weather will also affect how successful flowering is and when the fruit starts to set, we start predicting how ‘full’ the bunches are likely to be. With this information we can estimate how heavy the crop is. This is a matter of great importance for the winery but it is also one of the hardest things to get right, as the weight of the bunches can vary a lot. This is also the time when we can start predicting harvest dates. The time from mid-flowering to harvest is just over 100 days.

The question we are often asked is ‘how is this year’s harvest going to be?’ After flowering we have a good idea but growing grapes in a cool climate can be unpredictable, so the soundest answer is ‘we will let you know when the grapes are safely in the press.’

Royal Visit to Ridgeview

Ridgeview were delighted to welcome the Duchess of Cornwall for a tour of their Estate, whilst on her Royal visit to the county of East Sussex, especially to celebrate their recent success of being crowned ‘Best International Winemaker’ in the International Wine and Spirit Competition.

The Duchess of Cornwall, President of Wines of Great Britain since 2011, has a close connection to wine beginning through her father, Major Bruce Shand, who was a wine merchant. Her Royal Highness commented “Can I say what a huge pleasure it is to be here today. Not just that it has bought me back to Sussex, bought me back to Ditchling, where I used to be at school … but one of my hugest pleasures is being President of Wines of GB”

Her Royal Highness was able to see the progress at Ridgeview’s new £1.8m winery which will assist to double production in order to keep up with demand. Representatives from Trinder architects and Axio Builders were in attendance as well as Clydesdale Bank who are supporting the project alongside joint funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. With a focus on sustainability, the new purpose-built underground cellar capacity will enable Ridgeview to store up to £1m bottles in perfect conditions.

Ridgeview CEO Tamara Roberts had the pleasure to show the Duchess of Cornwall around the winery, introducing Her Royal Highness to members of the Ridgeview team and invited guests from trade and industry that have supported Ridgeview’s growth over the last 24 years: “We are delighted to be included in the Royal visit to East Sussex which is testament to the ever-increasing profile of English sparkling wine and Ridgeview’s prominent position within the industry.”

The Duchess of Cornwall made a welcome return to the county of East Sussex, since attending school in Plumpton and having fond memories of the area of Ditchling. The Royal engagements in East Sussex included a visit to Jamie’s Farm, Charleston House, Amex Community Stadium for the Sussex Women’s lunch before concluding at Ridgeview. The occasion was also a great moment for Ridgeview to honour the retirement of Chris Foss founder of local Plumpton Wine College’s Wine Division. The industry are grateful for Chris’s tireless efforts on improving English wine education and training for the past 31 years.

The Royal visit was a fabulous moment to celebrate the amazing 2018 harvest for English and Welsh wines, with a record-breaking 15.6 million bottles produced. Exports of English wine have doubled in the last 12 months, now exported to 40 different countries around the world. Ridgeview’s Head Winemaker Simon Roberts has just returned from a successful trip across the USA including a tasting a Google Headquarters in San Francisco and attending the Effervescence LA conference alongside other leading global sparkling wine makers, celebrating Ridgeview’s status as ‘International Winemakers of the Year’ by the IWSC, a first in the history of English Wine.

Simon Roberts, Ridgeview Head Winemaker commented: “We were very honoured to have our Patron, the Duchess of Cornwall visit the winery and meet our fantastic team who felt very privileged. It was great to invite many of our long-term supporters to celebrate our amazing day together”.

Ridgeview were thrilled that their status as pioneers in the historical rise of English sparkling wine was acknowledged with such a prestigious visit by Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall.

For media or photo enquiries please contact mardi@ridgeview.co.uk

Charity Close to our Hearts

This Sunday members of the Ridgeview family will be taking part in the Sussex Heart Charity annual sponsored walk. The 5 mile walk along the Brighton seafront to Hove, from Brighton Marina raises money for this fantastic charity which is close to our hearts here at Ridgeview.

The Sussex Heart Charity supports the brilliant Sussex Heart ward where our founder Mike Roberts was cared for towards the end of his life and his son Simon, Ridgeview’s head winemaker, received a life-saving heart valve replacement in 2015. Last year, a member of the Ridgeview team was able to save a local life by using their CPR skills on a person who had collapsed in the street.

We feel incredibly proud of the work undertaken by the Sussex Heart charity which includes the installation of 170 automated external defibrillators, saving lives all over Sussex. If an automated external defibrillator is used quickly after Sudden Cardiac Arrest (along with CPR) the chances of survival increase to in excess of 50%.

The annual walk will be raising money for ​several ​new projects, ​which ​include ​​Recovery ​After ​Surgery ​service and automated external defibrillators ​at ​all ​railway ​stations ​throughout ​Sussex.​ We love the fact that monies raised will ​be ​used ​directly ​to ​benefit ​cardiac ​patients ​and ​their ​families ​in ​Sussex. There is still time to register and join us on this sponsored walk for Sussex Heart Charity or support us by donating to this worthy cause.

https://sussexheartcharity.org/