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
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.
(From left) Ben, Oliver, aged nine, Matthew and Zoe
A SNIP: Ben Press pruning the vines