Celebrations at Ridgeview

It has been an amazing few weeks at Ridgeview, we have been living by our mantra ‘Life is for Celebrating’.

Our recent run of success kicked off with one of the greatest accolades we could have dreamed of, when we were awarded “Winemaker of the Year” in the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018. The first time in the IWSC’s 49-year history that this has been presented to an English producer. Such a wonderful reward for Ridgeview’s decades of passion and dedication in helping establish the blossoming category of English sparkling wine.

Hot on the heels of this we were honoured to be awarded a Gold for our Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs 2014, at the International Wine Competition. As one of only two golds for sparkling wines outside of France, this is a great achievement considering the amazing competition of incredible sparkling wines from around the world.

Our exclusive blend for M&S, Ridgeview Marksman Blanc de Blancs 2014, has been receiving wonderful press, crowned the winner of the Daily Mail Awards “Best English Sparking Wines” by Matthew Jukes and top pick by Olly Smith as Best of British for Christmas, “Up there with the best fizz in the world”. Jamie Goode also recommended our Ridgeview Wine Society English Exhibition range in the Express, as ”delicious … with a real zip”.

Whilst celebrating all these achievements, it was a fantastic reward for our CEO Tamara Robert’s tireless efforts for Ridgeview and the wider industry, to be awarded joint winner of ‘International Business Woman of the Year’, at the Sussex Business Women in Excellence Awards.

It has been a busy few weeks, making history for English Sparkling wine, however 2018 has marked many more achievements for Ridgeview. We launched our contemporary new branding in May at the Savoy; successfully opened our Ridgeview Wine Club, named OurView, in September with numbers excelling expectations; held our first RidgeFest; and most importantly celebrated our biggest, most fruitful harvest in history.

With export markets up 25% this year and our recent listing at one of the world’s most prestigious, 3 Michelin Starred restaurants, ‘The French Laundry’ in California, our current issue is keeping up with demand, which is a nice situation to be in! Thankfully we are thrilled to announce we will be building a new winery at the start of 2019 which will allow us to double our production facilities and enhance our visitor facilities over the next few years.

There is only one thing left to do this year and that is thank everyone for your continued loyal support and to remember our founder’s philosophy, ‘Life is for Celebrating’.

Ridgeview Crowned Winemaker of Year in the International Wine & Spirit Competition

Ridgeview are delighted to have been awarded the coveted trophy of Winemaker of the Year in the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018. This is the first time in the IWSC’s 49-year history that this has been presented to an English producer. The IWSC attracts entries from over 90 countries and is seen as a benchmark for quality with over 400 global experts assisting with the judging. The award was announced at the Guildhall in London with guests gathered from the global wine world.

CEO Tamara Roberts commented; ‘It is difficult to comprehend the enormity of this award to Ridgeview and the family. Being the first English sparkling wine producer to win such a coveted trophy from the ‘Oscars’ of the wine world is a huge achievement. I love the IWSC for its uncompromising focus on quality which gives all producers a way of benchmarking their wines against the very best in the world.  Being recognised as the Winemaker of the Year shows just what can be done when quality is at the heart of everything you do. Our achievements will always be tinged with sadness that Dad is no longer here with us, but we take great comfort that we are living his dream and that life really is for celebrating’.

Ridgeview were also awarded ‘English Producer of Year’ and ‘English Wine of the Year’ for their Marksman 2014, a collaboration with Marks & Spencer. As winners of the best English Wine Trophy Ridgeview were eligible for the overall world-wide trophy and were ecstatic to be even considered in such illustrious company.

Head Winemaker Simon Roberts added: “We are truly honoured to be awarded this accoldade, we have always held the IWSC with the highest regard. When we first started Ridgeview it was our goal to win the best bottle fermented sparkling which we did go on to win twice! To win Winemaker of the Year is amazing, especially humbling amongst previous winners who we hold with the greatest esteem.”

This award has topped off a great year for Ridgeview with the 2018 vintage, the biggest and best harvest on record which is due to be released in Ridgeview’s 25th anniversary celebration year in 2020.

2018 Amazing harvest for English Wine

Ridgeview’s 2018 harvest is officially over and on record as our biggest and best since we were established in 1995.

We were very fortunate with the weather throughout the year, dry and sunny at the key viticultural points, budburst, flowering, ripening and harvest. We anticipated the heavy volumes early on and therefore decided to invest in quite a lot in fruit thinning (green harvesting). A large crop can make ripening difficult, however our hard work pre-harvest paid off and veraison was early at around mid-August.

The September spell of great weather with clear days and a drop in the night time temperatures was crucial in maintaining acidity levels, which is key to quality. We began accepting grapes into the winery at our earliest ever date. The quality of the fruit was amazing with very large bunches and incredibly clean which made it a dream to pick.

“Honestly, hand on heart this is the best crop I have ever seen in my 17 years at Ridgeview, phenomenal!” commented our Vineyard Manager Matt Strugnell.

A difficulty we have had this year is fluctuations on yield estimations which resulted in a challenge for logistics. With so much fruit coming in and above predicted weights we have had to have last minute orders for tanks to make space in the winery which has been an industry wide issue.

Our Winemaker Simon Roberts remarked: “It is unusual for a harvest to have both high yields and incredible quality in both sugar and acidity. The juice is tasting amazing with lots of complexity and length”.

We have pressed 560 tonnes which will be our biggest ever harvest since 367 tonnes in 2014. This actually equates to over 3 million bunches of beautifully clean ripe fruit. We are incredibly excited about the quality and importantly quantity of the 2018 vintage wines due for release during 2020 when we will be celebrating Ridgeview’s 25 anniversary.

 

How does snow affect the vines?

By Ridgeview Vineyard Manager Matt Strugnell

In this cold and snowy week, how are our vines coping with ‘The Beast from the East?’ Thankfully our vines are fully dormant (asleep) at the moment. The coldest spot at Ridgeview was -10.0 C early on Wednesday morning, and probably not enough to cause any damage. Another drop of 5 degrees, and we might start to see a few buds being damaged, but it would take a further 10 degree drop to start seeing significant problems. There is a general rule that if the annual minimum temperature falls below -20 degrees C, more than once a decade, then problems occur. Some cultivars are more cold hardy than others; Chardonnay is slightly more winter hardy than Pinot noir for example. But overall, in Southern England, periods of extreme cold are fairly uncommon.

Fortunately most of our pruning is completed which could be cold and tricky in this weather. I don’t expect these cold temperatures to have an effect on budburst, or indeed the timing of the coming season. Grapevines, like most fruit crops do require a certain amount of chilling over winter, to kick start the next growing season. So budburst is really more about how the seasonal temperature during second half of March and early April is. Of course, as the buds start to swell, and the new shoots for this year’s crop emerge, this is the time we have to start being vigilant for Spring frosts, which, whilst not causing long term injury to the vines, can impact this year’s crop. There will be more about what we do to protect our vines in spring  in the next update.