CHANCE TO WIN VINE­YARD’S WINE

Peo­ple are of­ten sur­prised when they find out Buck­ing­hamshire has its own wine. Matthew Press of Seer Green Vine­yard speaks to JO-ANNE ROWNEY about a sparkling fu­ture for our county’s wine in­dus­try

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN I think of sparkling wine, I see rolling hills in Italy, vast vine­yards and a hot sun beat­ing down on rus­tic farm­yard homes. So it is not sur­pris­ing that peo­ple tend to be rather shocked when brothers Matthew and Ben Press tell peo­ple their wine is made a lit­tle closer to home – in the heart of the vil­lage of Seer Green.

“Peo­ple like the idea that it is lo­cal – that’s the nov­elty,” said Matthew. “They tell me they take it to par­ties and peo­ple ask where it’s from and they can’t guess. They are then sur­prised when they’re told it’s two miles down the road.”

Seer Green Vine­yard was started up after Matthew and his fam­ily bought a new prop­erty, which in­cluded the vines.

“It was about eight years ago,” he said. “I lived in Seer Green any­way but we were look­ing to move. My wife saw the house, but it had th­ese vines and I wasn’t sure. My wife was preg­nant though, so what she liked she got.”

There were enough vines to make wine but they needed to be re­paired. The brothers asked around for ad­vice, and var­i­ous peo­ple came to their aid.

“I’m an in­vest­ment ad­viser so had no idea about wine,” said Matthew. “I was sur­prised as peo­ple re­ally were help­ful and happy to ad­vise us. We couldn’t do the fi­nal press­ing and mak­ing of the wine – some­one does that for us – but the prun­ing and look­ing after the vines we learned from scratch.”

Matthew and Ben re­paired the vines in 2006 but did not har­vest them un­til 2007.

“We had our first com­mu­nity har­vest but we didn’t start sell­ing un­til 2010, 2011,” Matthew added.

The brothers sell three va­ri­eties of sparkling wine made from the three types of grapes they have on the vine­yard – two white and one red – which are blended.

They have to prune the vines and then har­vest the grapes, which all sounds labour in­ten­sive.

Matthew said: “I al­ways tell the joke, though it’s not that funny, that my wife said to me it’s ei­ther the vine­yard or golf. Now I say I have got all this wine, but my hand­i­cap is high. I prob­a­bly spend as much time with the vines as I would have done play­ing golf, but my wife can’t com­plain.”

He added: “I work as an in­vest­ment ad­viser, so prun­ing the vines in the spring is a great de-stresser.

“From April to har­vest, in the mid­dle of Oc­to­ber, we spend a cou­ple of hours ev­ery week­end. In the win­ter it’s a big­ger job, and I take a cou­ple of days off one week, and over a se­ries of week­ends peo­ple come to help. There was a lady who was 80 years old that came along!”

The wine is sold lo­cally. The Press brothers have a stall at Bea­cons­field Farm­ers’ Mar­ket but also sup­ply lo­cal pubs and bars, in­clud­ing The Jolly Crick­eters, in Seer Green, and The Tree­house, in Bea­cons­field.

He said: “I choose places to work with purely be­cause they’re near. The Jolly Crick­eters is where I go to drink my beer, so that was an easy one. I can just pop in for a pint and then drop the wine off.”

While peo­ple know the brand for its sparkling wine, this year for the first time they pro­duced a red.

“We know we will make sparkling but some­times we have some grapes left over,” said Matthew.

“Last year we had an ex­cess of red wine. We had enough so for the first time there was a Seer Green Pinot Noir va­ri­ety, a Bucks red wine. We had it in two French oak bar­rels, 450 litres across both and about 600 bot­tles.”

So what is next for Seer Green Vine­yard?

“I’m al­ways open to try­ing new things,” said Matthew. “Like a fizzy red, though that doesn’t sound good! It would be a sparkling red I guess. For my own taste, I’d like to try a dessert wine.”

Find out more at www. seer­green­vine­yard.co.uk.

BUSY FAM­ILY:

(From left) Ben, Oliver, aged nine, Matthew and Zoe

Pho­tos by Jon Mikol www.buyapho­totms.co.uk

A SNIP: Ben Press prun­ing the vines

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