December 2020/January 2021
We had a number of guests hoping to have a much welcomed break over Christmas / New Year but sadly these all had to be cancelled due to lockdown. The Wine Centre looked so cosy with all our Christmas decorations up – let’s hope we can all have a more normal Christmas and New Year in 2021. We have stayed in the Wine Centre ourselves during lockdown and been delighted with how cosy it is – even in the midst of this year’s cold and snowy winter.
Socially Distanced Harvest
This was a very different harvest compared to previous years when our pickers always stayed for a long, liquid harvest lunch. We had strict Covid procedures in place: everyone had a named bucket for the day and either picked on their own or in their ‘bubble’. Clare and Claire did a smaller range of cakes this year as each one had to be served in an individual pack and pickers were served coffee and cake at their pre-designated tables. Thank you to all our pickers for helping out in this challenging year.
We were delighted to receive planning permission in summer 2020 to convert the Wine Centre from a retail and event space to luxury guest accommodation. Our fabulous goddaughter, Andrea Valls, produced an amazing promotional video for us which can be viewed here, and from September onwards we were almost fully booked for the dates we weren’t in lockdown. These are just a couple of many fantastic reviews from guests staying in the Wine Centre:
To celebrate English Wine Week this year, Wine GB East Anglia broadcasted a series of interviews with local growers, hosted by Norfolk Wine School’s Jeremy Dunn. It was a real pleasure to be included, and Jane enjoyed chatting with Jeremy about matching soil types to grape varieties whilst tasting the Toppesfield Pinot Rosé on a beautiful sunny evening.
Thanks to Jeremy and Wine GB East Anglia for the wonderful feature. You can watch the full interview via the @WineGBeast Instagram.
We were delighted to be selected by Elizabeth Rose Wines on National Rosé Day (13th June) as the English Pinot Rosé Wine they chose to compare with the Celebrities’ Favourite Rosé, Whispering Angel.
This independent review came as a total surprise for us – it gave us such a sense of satisfaction and achievement to be so favourably compared with this leading French producer of 3 million bottles per annum!
We would like to thank all of our clients for supporting us on our journey to date and hope you will be equally pleased with this fantastic review.
On November 23rd we were pleased to host Sible Hedingham Co-op’s Christmas tasting event for Locally Sourced Products. About 60 people passed through the Wine Centre that afternoon to taste a wide selection of products produced in East Anglia, all of which were delicious. Thanks to Lynn Warner and her team for organising the event and to the Sible Hedingham store staff for hosting their local clients at Toppesfield Vineyard.
On 30th August we were invited by James Max to do a wine tasting and interview at 5.30 am (!) on his Business Breakfast show at the News Building, next to the Shard. James is such a great interviewer that he puts you at ease very quickly, even if it did feel rather strange to be drinking wine from plastic mugs at that unearthly hour of the morning…
July 13th Wine Centre Opening Event
We were delighted to host the East of England Coop for their launch of English Wine Week and ‘Sourced Locally’ fortnight. Gemma Tidmarsh, a well known food and lifestyle blogger for the Essex region wrote the most amazing article on Toppesfield Vineyard and the fantastic local produce available from the East of England stores.
We are now supplying five Co-op stores across Essex: Sible Hedingham, Halstead, Coggeshall, Earls Colne and Silver End. We have done a series of tastings in the Majestic and Coop Stores and are delighted with the positive feedback from staff and clients. You can view our full stockist information here.
This comes after a fantastic harvest at the end of a summer which gave near perfect conditions for establishing our vines further. We’re now producing over 10 tonnes of high quality Bacchus and Pinot Noir grapes; we couldn’t have got this huge increase in production to New Hall winery on time without the help of so many friends and the use of Simon’s Hiab crane truck.
We were delighted to serve Toppesfield Bacchus during the private viewing of the Fry Gallery’s annual sale in November. This is a fantastic gallery on Castle Street in Saffron Walden and is home to the North West Essex Collection of paintings, prints, books and ceramics by artists who have lived in and around Great Bradfield and Saffron Walden. David Oelman has been so helpful with ideas, contacts and research for the photographic exhibition of Michael Ayrton works we will hold in Toppesfield Vineyard’s new Wine Centre (due to open April 2019). Many of Michael Ayrton’s sculptures were produced at Bradfields, his home and studio 1952 – 1975. It was great to meet the extended team at the Fry Gallery and to feel so welcome.
We also had a stand at the Three Wine Men’s Event at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. The UK’s best loved wine experts Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin MW and Olly Smith hosted the event, talking to producers and visitors throughout the day. Toppesfield Vineyard exhibited on the GB Wine stand alongside our neighbours from West Street, Giffords Hall and Tuffon Hall, promoting the fantastic wines now available from Essex and Suffolk. Oz Clarke from the Three Wine Men said our 2016 Bacchus was an ‘impressive, firm, dry Bacchus. Less Aromatic but beautifully savoury.’ The timing of the recent Times article on Essex as a wine growing region was perfect and led to lots of new people sampling – and enjoying – our delicious wines. Thanks to everyone for your very positive feedback.
Last but not least we recently received delivery of our new, pre-printed gift boxes. The gold boxes are designed to hold 2 bottles (£2 per box) while the black boxes are for 3 bottles (£3 per box). We are delighted with how professional they look and believe they will make great all year presents/Christmas/corporate gift packs.
We’ve had a busy summer over at Toppesfield, with near perfect weather conditions we’re on target for a bumper crop of Bacchus and Pinot Noir. We also have some new awards and press features we’re proud to share…
We’re honoured to have won Wine of the Year from the East Anglian Vineyard Association for the second time for our Bacchus Reserve 2017 as well as a Silver for our 2017 Rosé. The winners were chosen from a record number of 73 entries. You can read more about the awards via the East Anglian Times here. The photo below is from the August edition of the National Grape Press magazine (sadly Pete was unable to attend the EAVA competition).
We were both able to attend the Sommelier Wine Awards stand at the Imbibe event at Olympia, following Toppesfield Vineyard winning one of the SWA’s four UK gold awards for our Bacchus Reserve 2016. It was so exciting to see our wine alongside other National Winners. You can learn more about the SWA and the tasting notes applied to Toppesfield wines here.
Wine expert Matthew Jukes rounded up the finest English wines for the Daily Mail. Toppesfield is in the final section ‘Other Counties’. You can read the full article here.
Aldermore Bank is dedicated to championing Britain’s go-getters, and we were honoured to be featured as their Go Getter of the Week. We chatted about how our vineyard started out, what inspires us and our proudest moment to date. You can read the full article here.
The results are just in from the Independent English Wine Awards (IEWA) and we are delighted to have been awarded a Silver medal for our 2016 Bacchus and a Bronze for our 2016 Pinot NoirRosé. With the awards already won from the UK and East Anglian Vineyard Associations and from Decanter, the IEWA competition is another affirmation of the excellence of our wines which we hope you will enjoy as much as we do.