In 2005 Steve decided to test the proposed vineyard by planting 5 different varieties of vines to see how they would grow and they all grew really well so in 2006 he planted 300 Siegerrebe vines.
The vineyard site is Cotswold limestone derived, with a heavy but well drained soil. Predominantly it faces north – south. The vineyard covers approximately 1 hectare. The site falls gently from the north west corner to the south east corner and falls 17 feet over the distance,
The first crop was from the 400 vines planted in 2006 and was in Autumn 2009. The first wine tasted was 2010 when 370 bottles were yielded from about 400 kg of grapes. The wine had an excellent reception locally and was quickly sold (or consumed by friends) The wine is crisp and fresh, with a good nose. Very much akin to drinking a quality Pinot Grigio but with a more perfumed nose and aromas.
In 2010 a further 1300 vines were planted, 900 of these being Siegerrebe and the rest Seyval Blanc vines.
The crop in 2010 from the established vines – (the original 400) yielded just over a tonne of grapes which produced about 1,000 bottles. The winery who process the grapes from Little Oak Vineyard suggested adding extra grape sugar to about a third of the bottles of wine. This allowed the wine in those bottles to be ready for drinking sooner than the rest of the batch. Time has shown that its better to wait for the whole batch to be ready at the same time (this was part of the learning curve for Maria and Steve). The wine with the added grape sugar did not seem to keep as well as the simple wine and as such is something that will not be repeated in future years.
In 2011 the crop was decimated by mildew and after that no grapes were picked.
2012 was the year of an exceptionally mild March, which led to the vines growth being advanced by about 6 weeks against previous years.
Unfortunately the Cotswolds suffered an unexpected late severe frost which totally destroyed the early growth in the vineyard, this was followed by a wet summer and as result of both there was again no crop.
2013 was a good year, the lessons learned from previous years, the introduction of a water spray frost control system and the heavy investment in new vines all contributed to a good crop of the Siegerrebe grape, and the very first crop of the Seyval Blanc grapes for the new sparkling wine.
2014, was another good year. As each year progresses things get better and better.
2015, a fantastic year, with the receipt of our first batch of sparkling wine. The Siegerrebe crop was fantastic, Excellent results for quality and quantity, with the best figures recorded for acid and sugar levels to date (with the Siegerrebe grapes) in the vineyard.
Sadly though, the Seyval grapes never quite reached the required levels of sugar. The Seyval grapes ripen approximately four to six weeks after the Siegerrebe grapes, the Cotswolds experienced an unusual long spell of cold, damp weather during this time. It was decided (based upon the vineyards ethos and quest for quality) to not use the 2015 Seyval grape crop.
Unfortunately there is no production of the sparkling wine for 2015. The vineyard would rather produce no wine of a particular type (in a specific year) instead of wine of an inferior quality.
2016, Our best year to date, fantastic quality grapes, a great yield and almost perfect sugar and acidity readings on the days the grapes were harvested.