Planting a vineyard's not so unusual these days. The English wine industry is flourishing, partly because more land IS being planted, and more quality fruit is being produced. But still, this kind of venture requires judgement and expertise, and there's a great deal to learn. Not least for the owner of Pookchurch Vineyard, David Wood, who swapped a career organising conferences and exhibitions for the challenge of creating a new commercial vineyard in Sussex.
In a short space of time towards the end of 2015, David managed to assemble a team of people who brought their skills and knowledge to the project - and without whom the progress we've made so far wouldn't have been possible. In the coming months we want to add more expertise in the form of the vineyard management team, who will manage the vineyard through its second year and beyond.
David's aim is to become a successful grower of high quality grapes for local winemakers, and for the vineyard to play it's part in the ongoing success of Sussex wines. But how we go about that is equally important.
It's a complicated relationship between grower and grape, but there's something which even a newcomer can sense: the association with passion and commitment, and a profound connection between the vines, the land and environment.
Pookchurch has been planted on a site of about 100 acres, close to the village of Cuckfield in Sussex, in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. David bought the land in the autumn of 2015 when the farm of which it was a part, was sold and split up. The land slopes gently south, with views to the South Downs and is perfect ( we hope) for growing vines and producing grapes.
And so it feels like a privilege to be working in such a beautiful landscape, and we intend to respect it and look after it. Before the vines were planted, the land was used to grow wheat and broad beans. Already the geometry of the vine rows adds a different look, and as the vines mature, they will add something pleasing to the landscape, as the other local vineyards have done.
The name too, was chosen because of its connection with the place. Inspired by nearby Pookchurch Wood, the name seemed a fitting way of connecting the history of the land with its new purpose of growing grapes.
WORK OF MANY