At Hambledon Vineyard we have the honour of sharing Her Majesty’s Jubilee – our vineyard was first planted in 1952, making it the oldest commercial vineyard in England. We have been in continuous production for 70 years now, crafting quality wines from grapes grown on perfect white chalk in the small village of Hambledon, Hampshire.
Much like Her Majesty's, Hambledon Vineyard's heritage is rich and full of fascinating characters (some of whom even cross paths). Which is why our Owner and Managing Director, Ian Kellett, has decided to share a series of short blogs ahead of the Jubilee Weekend to celebrate our joint Jubilees. Be sure to read the previous blog here, if you missed it. Otherwise, please enjoy the final piece below.
2022, Hambledon, United Kingdom
These “petites histoires” (small stories) I have shared show how closely we are connected to the past – Hambledon Vineyard has taught me that.
It has taught me that we must carefully and conscientiously convey all that is good from the past of human development over 100,000 years, across the short bridge of our own lifetimes, improving it where we can and seeking to damage it not at all, and hand it with genuine pride but also tenderness and humility to the next generation, to carry across their own time bridge.
The wine industry has never lost sight of this Burkean philosophy, with vineyards and wineries handed down from generation to generation. To be sure each generation needs to improve on the past. In our case we have made a strategic switch from still wine to sparkling wine, replanting all the vineyard and substantially scaling the business.
I have also though returned to Sir Guy’s French affiliations and roots – with our winemaking team being led by Hervé Jestin, Champagne chef de caves, who was introduced by Hubert de Billy of Pol Roger as an inspired minimal intervention wine maker. 14 years later we concur. We do all of our winemaking in French, and I have even taken up Sir Guy’s practice of only swearing in French to save English ears from expletives, but as I have French folk working here I get caught out sometimes.
We really feel honoured to share not just a jubilee with Her Majesty’s Coronation, but that sense of needing to protect the best of the past whilst improving it for the future.
The only shame is that we will not be able to share this historic day with one of Hambledon Vineyard's longest running and dearest winemakers, William Carcary.
Bill was Winemaker here from 1966-1994, and sadly he passed away last year. He was my ‘next door neighbour’ for 23 years and a constant source of motivation and inspiration for me to put the vineyard back into full operation. I hope Bill and Sir Guy are metaphysically enjoying a glass of (English Sparkling) wine today, smiling at the things we do well... and perhaps tutting at a few others.
Bill’s participation in Her Majesty's Coronation in 1952, escorting the Queen of Tonga, was constantly referred to at the vineyard and so today, the jubilee feels quite close to home.
I hope that you have enjoyed these short stories. We will be raising a glass of Hambledon Premiere Cuvée to Queen Elizabeth today and wishing everyone a very enjoyable Jubilee Weekend.
I look forward to seeing you all at the vineyard in the near future.