“Taking over the family farm in 2006 was my chance to follow my dream in making the finest sparkling wine. Converting our land from salad to wine has been a journey of discovery and joy that I look forward to sharing with you.”
Born and raised on this beautiful Sussex land, I have been lucky to watch the views change over the years. Growing up, we were not looking out onto fields of vines like we do today; my Mum and Dad before me were iceberg lettuce farmers. Now I, Art, live on the Vineyard with my wife, Jody, and son, Jake.
“Farming for us isn’t just a job; living here and looking after the land is a way of life passed on from generation to generation. You could say ‘growing’ runs through our veins.”
In his early years, my father, also the son of a farmer from the Netherlands, worked for Marks and Spencer travelling the world; he taught farmers to grow beans in Kenya, tomatoes under glass in Germany and salads in California. It was in California that he stumbled upon an exciting new salad crop called iceberg lettuce, where everything changed. In 1983 a farm became available in just the right spot, at the foot of South Downs in Sussex, close to the sea on Tinwood Lane, where he started farming his crops.
Skip forward a few years when it was my turn to take the reins of the farm; the landscape had evolved so much that mass production farming and supermarkets were taking prevalence. I thought that it was time for a change.
While studying agriculture and farming at university, it dawned on me that growing vines could be my family’s future. With this in mind, I packed my bags and, in 2005, moved to Marlborough, New Zealand. Being fortunate enough to work in the vineyards in Marlborough, I worked closely with Mike and Claire Allen, who own Huia Vineyards. I owe them so much for sharing their fantastic knowledge over a glass of wine or two! Growing and nurturing Sauvignon Blanc and other grape varieties opened my eyes to the beautiful world of growing vines and producing wine. This was when I knew I wanted to convert the land from salad to vines and become a Vineyard owner.
Surrounded by Beauty
“Our flint, gravel loam soil layered over chalk at the base of the South Downs is truly a magical place to grow our vines. Now spread over 110 acres of the Vineyard, the family farm is growing world-class quality grapes to produce our award-winning sparkling wines”.
Our 275-acre family farm is ideally situated at the foot of the South Downs, only 3 miles from the sea. The top layer of our soil consists of fertile loam, gravel and flint. At different points of the farm, we have varying depths of chalk ranging from 50m to 300cm deep, very similar to the chalk found in parts of Champagne and Burgundy.
In 2007 we started pulling out the lettuces and planted our first 48,000 vines. With a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier spread across 28 acres. In 2008 this was further added to give us a total of 50 acres. Now with 110 acres under vine, we hope to harvest between 300 and 400 tonnes of grapes depending on the season.
Doing things right
In the Vineyard, I am joined by 6 full-time team members who all enjoy the same passion and strive to produce the best quality grapes possible from our land.
All vines are hand pruned through the Winter before going through budburst in mid-April. Thankfully being only 3 miles from the sea, we rarely experience frost, and our vines continue to grow happily through the spring. At this time, the team are busy shoot selecting, bud rubbing and wire lifting finishing with my favourite time of year – Harvest.
Harvest is the most exciting time of year, and depending on the season, we usually begin harvesting the last week of September. Every bunch of grapes is hand-picked to ensure the best quality by our professional team of grape pickers.
If you are interested in learning more about our Harvest, we run a yearly Harvest Experience where you can join in on the fun.
When Harvest is over, our team spend their time pruning the vines right back down from November until February for the life cycle to start again.
Doing things right
With all the hard work that goes into growing our grapes in the vineyards, we create our fabulous range of delicious sparkling wines, which are expertly made in collaboration with the award-winning wine at Ridgeview Wine Estate in Ditchling, Brighton.
Immediately after arriving at the winery, our grapes are whole bunch pressed. The grape juice is left to settle, and yeast is added to conduct its first fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks. A few members of the team and I taste these base wines with the winemaking team to decide which parcels of wine belong to which blend.
“The tasting of our base wines following the harvest gives us the first glimpse of the character and quality of our vintage wines.”
These blends are then bottled with added yeast and sugar. The bottles then return to our cellars here at Tinwood Estate to rest for a minimum of 2 years in our temperature-controlled cellars. Once the wine is ready, we take them out of the Tinwood cellars back to the winery for disgorgement, corking, foiling and labelling before returning to Tinwood Estate again for the final stage of maturation.
The Tasting Room
Our Tasting Room sits just in front of our Vineyard on the Estate. Located only 10 minutes from Chichester and 5 minutes from Goodwood, it is the perfect place to visit for an afternoon if doing a tour or to just quickly pass through if you are on your way to the Goodwood races.
The beauty of living in a New Zealand Vineyard and learning how to grow grapes was an incredible experience. I was instantly inspired by how in tune they were with their environment and completely in awe of the outstanding architecture and design. What took me by surprise was their wine-tasting experience. With a welcoming nature, they delivered such openness, which again was so inspiring that we wanted to bring that same atmosphere to Tinwood Estate.
Starting from humble beginnings in 2012, I was running the Vineyard and my wife, Jody, opened the tasting room. We ran our 1st vineyard tour on June 21st, 2012. We still remember having that same buzz about our first vineyard tour as the once’s we do today. The passion and hunger to show people what we do hasn’t faded but grown. Often you will find Jody and me at the tasting room chatting with guests and showing them what we are up to currently in the Vineyard.
We opened our overnight accommodation in 2017 to welcome guests from further afield to stay the night in our Vineyard, which soon became the perfect staycation for our many wonderful guests—a rather unique experience for people to relax and enjoy our wine among the vines.
In 2019 we decided to expand our tasting room to give us more space, a comfortable space to conduct wine tastings, pop-up dinners and seasonal events all year round. Our tasting room is a beautiful open space for our guests to feel comfortable and at home while enjoying our surroundings.
Later in life came further trips to Napa, Stellenbosch and Hunter Valley, to name a few…
What's next for Tinwood
We continue to expand the Vineyard, with the latest planting in 2022. We are always on the lookout for new technologies and ways of improving the growth of our vines.
In recent years we have become much more conscious of our position within the environment. We make agronomy decisions with the environment at the forefront of our minds. We strive to leave the farm to the next generation in an even better state than it is today.
“As a generational farming family, we believe in making decisions that will improve the life, the vitality of the soils and environment of the farm, not just in our own lifetimes but for the following generations as well.