Harvest 2023: the People Behind the Finest English Fizz

Harvest 2023: the People Behind the Finest English Fizz

As Harvest Commences, we find ourselves with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the exceptional elements that contribute to our unique wines- from our terroir, climate, and the remarkable talent here at Hambledon Vineyard. Blending the Savoir Faire inherited from our Champagne counterparts with a bold, pioneering spirit that stems from our growing industry, unique climate and the exceptional individuals who shape our brand. Undoubtedly, the unwavering commitment and contributions of every member of the Hambledon team have played an indispensable role in creating the Finest English Fizz.


Felix Gabillet: Winemaker

Born and raised in the Loire Valley- in a family for whom food and wine were an essential part of reunions- with his grandfather sharing his love for Bourgueuil, Chinon and Gigondas, all contributing to Felix’s love of wine. After attending agricultural school in France, he specialised in Viticulture and Oenology, working all over the world, from Australia to Canada, before returning to school in Switzerland to obtain a Bachelor in Viticulture and Oenology and subsequently taking over as Winemaker at Hambledon Vineyard in 2016. Day to day, Felix leads the winery and cellar team, planning and supervising the work from Harvest to Bottling- and is truly vital to the quality of our Finest English Fizz.

Felix believes that we should ‘Keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future. It’s a constant balance between those two worlds. Of course, we need innovation in the viticulture and winemaking industry - especially all the new technics invented to reduce our carbon footprint. But sometimes innovation is only here to speed up the process and this is not good because one can lose focus and start compromising quite quickly. This is not good for quality and one can become a lazy winemaker and viticulturist.  

The success of Champagne and other great sparkling wines shows us that excellence, time and a zero-compromise approach work.  


Nick Cran-Crombie: Vineyard Manager

Originally from Manchester, Nick worked in the music business for 20 years, however when music sales shifted to digital, he decided to embark upon a new career in wine- which eventually, led to his position here at Hambledon Vineyard. As our vineyard manager, the primary aim of Nick’s role is to produce the best quality fruit possible and deliver this to the winemakers. Nick is required to take the lead on all viticulture operations, whilst developing and executing the best possible and sustainable agricultural practices. Every day presents a new challenge and therefore keeping an open mind to adapt and evolve processes is key.  Of course, in a marginal climate such as ours, there’s a myriad of challenges involved with the role.

‘Weather is the controlling factor for yields with forecasting only available for a few days ahead. The relative unknown is always just around the corner so nimble and decisive actions are required daily. Improvements in technology are constantly shifting the mechanisation and human input parameters as are advancements with data capture and assessment.


Sam Picton: Assistant Winemaker

Born and bred in West Sussex, Sam is Hambledon Vineyard's home-grown wine connoisseur. Embodying the heart and soul of local English winemaking, Sam brings a blend of youthful enthusiasm and expertise to Hambledon. His days at Plumpton College not only solidified his foundation in viticulture and oenology but also deepened his affection for the unique character of English wines.

Reflecting on his journey, Sam states, "Being an English winemaker, especially at Hambledon – England’s most historic commercial vineyard – is a real privilege. Crafting wine here isn't just a job; it's the opportunity to be a part of an English legacy that now, more than ever, stands toe-to-toe with the world's best."


Excited as we are for harvest? Experience the magic firsthand! Come visit us at the vineyard during this exhilarating season. Whether you join one of our top-rated tours or immerse yourself in our Harvest Celebration, there’s no better time to be a part of the Hambledon story.

Or perhaps you'd rather savor the end result? Dive into a glass of the Finest English Fizz, direct from England's Oldest Commercial Vineyard. Celebrate our harvest with code HARVEST2023 for 10% off any of our world-beating wines.