The resurrection of Hambledon Vineyard
Ian Kellett acquired Hambledon Vineyard in 1999. As a passionate wine lover, Ian was intrigued by the winemaking heritage of the property. After analysing the commercial potential for English wine, he began studying oenology at Plumpton College in Sussex with a view to restoring Hambledon to its former glory.
Research convinced him that sparkling wines were the future and in 2005 Ian planted a 10-acre ‘test bed’ of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to see which of the 27 different combinations of vine clones and rootstocks gave the best results. A team then travelled to France to meet Hubert de Billy, son of the chairman of Pol Roger, to revive a former relationship between Hambledon Vineyard and the esteemed Champagne House.
Having proved that the site could grow fine quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the vineyard was converted into a company in 2010 and 2011 enabling funding to be raised from third party minority shareholders. The company was also successful in applying for UK and EU government funding via the RDPE programme. The team at Hambledon remains deeply grateful both its shareholders and to DEFRA for the enabling support provided.
In 2011 one of the other final pieces of the jigsaw slotted into place with the appointment of Hervé Jestin, formerly one of Champagne’s leading chefs de cave. A renowned expert in minimal-intervention winemaking, Hervé directs all winemaking at the Estate.
Hambledon Vineyard now comprises over 50 acres of vineyards and the only gravity-fed, state-of-the-art winery in the UK. Work begins in 2017 on extending the cellars and wine storage to ensure that all the wine produced can be aged successfully on site. A tasting room and visitor centre is also planned for the future.