The Notebook

Do you need to drink a lot of wine to be a winemaker?

Do you need to drink a lot of wine to be a winemaker?

In the last few months we've opened our doors at Hambledon to a whole range of visitors. We've been running tours and tastings several times a week for people from all walks of life - from a local Probus Group to corporate parties and families of all ages. We've also hosted a number of meetings in our meeting room and have just had our first wedding in the vineyard!

Havant Probus Group pose after their tour with Antoine.

The nice thing about welcoming so many visitors is that we get some good face-to-face feedback; not just about the wines but also about our vision for the future and what we're trying to achieve here at Hambledon. And of course it reminds us of how lucky we are to be able to work in such an idyllic setting.

Visitors inspecting the vines in Home Vineyard

Thinking back on the different visits, it's been fascinating to see the number of extraordinary questions we've been asked - from the highly technical to the truly bizarre! A group of students on a cultural trip from Belgium spent a good twenty minutes pressing Antoine on how much you had to be able to drink to qualify as a winemaker. But then the following day he was talking yeast strains, clonal selection and different types of presses with a group of Argentinian winemakers.

Argentinian winemakers enjoying a glass of Hambledon on the terrace

We also had a lovely visit from Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones' grand-daughter. Sir Guy was the original owner of Hambledon Vineyard who first started to make wines commercially on the estate back in the 1950s - and it was lovely to hear stories about him and what it had been like to come and visit the vineyard back in its original heyday.

Antoine tends to take most of the tours around the winery. When I asked him if he enjoys this aspect of his job, he talked particularly fondly about on group of visitors - a hen party! Apparently it was a beautifully sunny day, the girls were all very enthusiastic about the wines and very excited and giggly about being taken around by a handsome young French winemaker! I think he was even invited to join them later for a party, but he's keeping mum on that one!