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vin­tage in­vest­ments

Bri­tish wines are win­ning world­wide plau­dits — so is the time ripe to buy a vine­yard?


sHOULD you be rais­ing a glass of wine this week­end, the chances are it will be French, Span­ish, Ital­ian or New World — but what about giv­ing English a try? Bet­ter still, why not pro­duce your own?

To some, this sounds far-fetched, but for the Hay­wood fam­ily in Worces­ter­shire, it’s re­al­ity. Since sum­mer 2017, Bev and Tim Hay­wood have owned the Ast­ley Vine­yard in Stour­port- on-Sev­ern in north Worces­ter­shire, which they run with their daugh­ter Daisy, son Chris and his wife Matleena.

It’s small — just five acres — but it’s one of the old­est vine­yards in the UK, and the fam­ily have given it a new lease of life.

Within seven months of mov­ing in, they re­fur­bished and re­branded — and now the vine­yard pro­duces 9,000 bot­tles an­nu­ally. Bev says: ‘Tim and I were ac­coun­tants, in our 50s, and look­ing for a project. We wanted to work out­side and had lived in the area for 20 years, so when the vine­yard went on sale, we said: “Why not?” ’

Since run­ning the op­er­a­tion, the Hay­woods have added vine­yard tours and ‘wine and dine’ events to draw in vis­i­tors and con­vert those scep­ti­cal of English wine — and cre­ate an ex­tra in­come stream on top of wine sales. ‘ The cus­tomers are the best part,’ says Bev. ‘They are lovely, en­cour­ag­ing and in­ter­ested. But any­one buy­ing a vine­yard must ac­cept that there isn’t a day off, and some times of year — such as around now — are par­tic­u­larly busy man­ag­ing the grapevines.’

In the UK, there are vine­yards from Corn­wall to North York­shire, and, even with volatile weather, a sin­gle vine in a good year can pro­duce suf­fi­cient grapes to cre­ate at least one or pos­si­bly two bot­tles of wine — so, in the­ory, it’s easy to pro­vide enough for fam­ily and friends even if you don’t want to be­come a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion.

But the site and soil types are key for amateurs and pro­fes­sion­als alike.

Now, the coun­try property mar­ket is be­gin­ning to see grow­ing num­bers of peo­ple en­quir­ing not only about qual­ity farm­houses and rec­to­ries, but the land that comes with them.

‘The best sites are found on free- drain­ing, gentle, south-fac­ing slopes that aren’t ex­posed to strong winds or late frost, are not too high, and where av­er­age tem­per­a­tures and sun­shine hours are high­est,’ says Nick Wat­son, from the land man­age­ment team at es­tate agency Strutt & Parker.

‘The soil type and site char­ac­ter­is­tics, or ter­roir as the French say, is re­flected in the taste of the wine.’

To do it on a large scale re­quires high ini­tial in­vest­ment, good or­gan­i­sa­tion and ex­pert ad­vice.

Per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, many ama­teur vine­yard own­ers choose to work with an estab­lished win­ery at first, to turn their crops into a drink­able prod­uct. ‘ En­gag­ing con­trac­tors who man­age your vines, pick grapes and trans­port them to an estab­lished pro­ducer re­quires lit­tle of your own equip­ment,’ says Nick Wat­son.

‘How­ever, if you un­der­take the hus­bandry, wine­mak­ing, bot­tling, cel­larage and mar­ket­ing your­self, then you will need to have all the equip­ment.’

THERE’S pa­per­work, too: most vine­yards must be reg­is­tered with the Food Stan­dards Agency (FSA).

If you are not put off by the cost, red tape and hard work, you’ll be in the com­pany of many grow­ers who started from fairly mod­est be­gin­nings.

Tre­vib­ban Mill, a charm­ing vine­yard near Pad­stow in Corn­wall, started out a decade ago when its owner took early re­tire­ment and bought land to grow pis­ta­chios and hazel­nuts; the seven-acre vine­yard was an af­ter­thought, but now its wine has won global awards and there is an ad­di­tional or­chard and

wine-tast­ing busi­ness. In Kent, a fam­ily who owned a 40-acre ap­ple or­chard in the Six­ties di­ver­si­fied into wines, and now — 50 years later — the third gen­er­a­tion of the fam­ily is run­ning Bid­den­den Vine­yards, mak­ing 80,000 bot­tles a year.

If you want ev­i­dence that the English vine­yard is no longer a joke, just ask the likes of Tait­tinger and Pom­mery: these two French cham­pagne houses have bought hun­dreds of acres in Kent and Hamp­shire to grow grapes.

The FSA says there are 700 vine­yards in Eng­land and Wales, cov­er­ing an acreage that has tripled in the past 20 years, and which pro­duced 15 mil­lion bot­tles last year.

Trade or­gan­i­sa­tion Wine GB says some two mil­lion vines are set to be planted in 2019 alone and pre­dicts that the cur­rent 2,000strong work­force in Bri­tish vine­yards will ex­pand to be­tween 20,000 and 30,000 by 2040 — some­thing to drink to in eco­nom­i­cally un­cer­tain times.

Si­mon robin­son, chair­man of Wine GB, says last year saw Bri­tish vine­yards move into the big time.

‘As a sec­tor, we’re bring­ing many de­vel­op­ments in agri­cul­ture, tourism, ed­u­ca­tion, in­vest­ment and em­ploy­ment,’ he says.

‘This is now a thriving and con­fi­dent Bri­tish in­dus­try of which we can be jus­ti­fi­ably proud.’

So, as you sip some­thing this week­end, con­sider this: could you pro­duce some­thing bet­ter your­self?

THOSE of a cer­tain age will re­mem­ber hear­ing the click­ing and chim­ing of clocks on man­tel­pieces. This is not some­thing the younger gen­er­a­tion ex­pe­ri­ence — nowa­days, they merely look at their mo­bile phones to find out the time.

but there’s been a shift, of sorts, with clocks be­com­ing far more than sim­ple time­pieces.

‘State­ment clocks can be used much like a piece of art, com­ple­ment­ing the aes­thetic of a room or adding an el­e­ment of drama,’ says Emily Dun­stan, home buyer at Heal’s, whose most pop­u­lar clock — the Pluto Star­burst Gold Wall Clock by new­gate (£140, heals.com) — is a con­tem­po­rary won­der, with its brass­ef­fect dial and myr­iad tri­an­gles. ‘While a clock can be used on its own to cre­ate a fo­cal point in the room, it can have just as much im­pact as part of a larger fea­ture.’

The York­shire Fur­ni­ture Com­pany does this by en­cas­ing clocks un­der the glass of a cof­fee ta­ble, in­stantly mar­ry­ing the need for some­thing func­tional with at­trac­tive fur­ni­ture (£229.99, york­shire­fur­ni­ture.co.uk). bramwell brown Clocks ( bramwell­brown.

com) are hand­some clocks/barom­e­ters, where a steel-framed, easy-to-read face sits just above a series of mov­ing, brightly il­lus­trated pan­els that fore­cast the weather based on air pres­sure changes.

it is good-look­ing on the wall but, more than this, it is a multi-task­ing hy­brid that clev­erly rein­vents the ana­logue barom­e­ter with a mod­ern-day spin.

‘We wanted to take the same charm­ing, nat­u­ral move­ments of a barom­e­ter, but make them all the more cap­ti­vat­ing and suit­able for con­tem­po­rary homes,’ ex­plain brother and sis­ter co-founders Rob and Sarah bramwell.

Turn­ing time on its head in yet an­other twist is aus­tralian com­pany Clock­si­cle ( clock­si­cle.

com), whose pretty and up­lift­ing clock faces and num­bers come in a range of white, pas­tel or rain­bow shades. The jolly items are aimed at chil­dren — the dots for ev­ery minute help­ing them learn how to keep and tell the time.

CLEV­ERLY, Clock­si­cle clocks (£59, minideco.co.uk) are ideal for chil­dren’s bed­rooms. Why? They are silent. ‘The busi­ness was born from my in­abil­ity to find a de­cent wall clock for my chil­dren,’ says founder ali­son Old­field. ‘They were ei­ther too adult, too big, didn’t have all of the num­bers, or the de­signs were too child­ish. Worse still, most of them ticked loudly and kept my chil­dren awake at night. it’s im­por­tant for chil­dren to be able to tell the time and man­age their own.

‘Just look­ing at it on a mo­bile phone is not enough, as it doesn’t give them a sense of the pas­sage of time and how long things take. Count­less moth­ers have told me they bought clocks for their chil­dren, only

to have to take the bat­ter­ies out at night to stop the tick­ing.’ Even in their most clas­sic form, our need to have clocks gives an ob­vi­ous op­por­tu­nity to have fun with them. imag­ine a kitchen wall full of clocks — from an­tique and small, to min­i­mal­ist and trans­par­ent — but one that would make your din­ner party guests pon­der which one was telling the cor­rect time. among them could be Way­fair’s kitchen­friendly, multi-coloured clock made from cut­lery, (£20.99, way­fair.co.uk), or a reimag­ined rail­way sta­tion clock such as the Put­ney Wall Clock from Tick Tock Clocks (£ 99.95, tick­tock­clocks.co.uk).

in fact, in just one home, a mod­ern kitchen might have a red-lED wall-read dig­i­tal pro­jec­tion of the time, a hall­way that bows to the grandeur of a tall grand­fa­ther clock, and the face­less Dou­ble Rings Desk Clock by nomon — which comes to­gether with two thin, fi­bre­glass frames (£619, heals.com) — tick­ing away in the study.

For those of us who con­tinue to ap­pre­ci­ate an­tiques, an out-of-use ‘punchin-punch- out’ glass-faced fac­tory clock with vis­i­ble pen­du­lum can hang or dou­bleup as a side­board for a touch of tra­di­tion.

‘no other ob­jects have as much in­flu­ence or make you get up and move so fast out the door,’ say Rob and Sarah, of bramwell brown Clocks. ‘So, if a clock can also be seen as a thing of beauty to adorn a wall or com­plete a room, then you’ve got it all.’

 ??  ?? Grow­ing busi­ness: A small­hold­ing with vines. Inset: Tim and Bev Hay­wood of Ast­ley Vine­yard
Grow­ing busi­ness: A small­hold­ing with vines. Inset: Tim and Bev Hay­wood of Ast­ley Vine­yard
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 ??  ?? Fo­cal point: Mo­rillo Wall Clock, £89.99, Oak Fur­ni­ture­land, and (be­low) Bramwell Brown Weather Clock, £380, bramwell­brown.com
Fo­cal point: Mo­rillo Wall Clock, £89.99, Oak Fur­ni­ture­land, and (be­low) Bramwell Brown Weather Clock, £380, bramwell­brown.com
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