‘From The Ground Up’: this is the motto at Kinsbrook Vineyard. Currently Kinsbrook consists of 44,500 vines across three sites in West Chiltington, West Sussex, with a main hub at the Picketty site, where they have a converted horsebox and Greenhouse Restaurant.
With help from his family and girlfriend, Rebecca, Joseph Beckett has turned the family farm into a vineyard, and soon to be tourist destination, with ambitious plans to build a farm shop, complete with a bakery, butcher’s and café. Speaking to Rebecca and Joseph, one can easily feel the enthusiasm and energy emanating from them about their vision, and also sense the potential to turn humble beginnings into a must-visit destination in West Sussex.
Planting a vineyard on the family farm was an idea that was first discussed in 2006 whilst Joseph was still at school. But it wasn’t until a few years later when Joseph had not only finished school, but returned from his travels in New Zealand, that the idea really took off. Inspired by the wine tourism that he experienced in New Zealand at just 21, his mission became clear for the future of the family farm.
The West Sussex family farm is surrounded by longer established wineries, including Stopham and Nutbourne. In 2013, Joseph and his parents began speaking to many recognisable names in the English Wine scene, including Dermot Sugrue, the winemaker from neighbouring Wiston Estate. Enthusiastic about the land they were soon to plant on, Dermot was keen to get them on-board as clients at Wiston and made their first sparkling wine from neighbouring vineyards in 2014.
Their first vines were planted in 2017 after draining the first site of clay soils. 2020 saw the release of their first wines, a classic sparkling, a Bacchus and a Pinot Gris. For the hospitality element, they turned a horsebox into a mobile coffee shop and they seated people outside next to the vines. I was amazed at the amount of people stopping by for a morning coffee; it seems they have already picked up a good trade in just one summer.
The excitement for this project is clear. Now 27 years old, Joseph has endless ideas that he wishes to execute, such as planting trees, building a large greenhouse, supplying the future café, planting more vines and even installing a winery. It’s a slow process though. Each phase of the plan is only possible once they have raised enough money for the next part of the project .
However, these objectives have still been exciting enough for Rebecca to leave her glistening music career in London behind. She has now moved back down to Sussex where she has harnessed her creative talents to help Joseph grow the business. When the situation allows, they have plans for special food pairing nights and Sunday music sessions, where Rebecca herself will be amongst the performers.
With that motto written across the horsebox, they hope to instill a sense of authenticity in their wines and at the vineyard so that the message is clear: their wine is for everyone.
For English Wine Week, John looks at a selection of diverse and innovative wines.
This month, John's focussed on 2021 vintage English wines, with a delectable trio of white blends, as well as four textural still releases.
John tastes through ten delicious and diverse examples of English Bacchus, which demonstrate just why this is the white grape of choice in England right now.