The days of dismissing English wines are, happily, long behind us and all that remains is to convert all our winemakers to organic practices. It's something that Will Davenport has taken to like a duck to water and his vibrant, super-fresh, citrus white is a joy to drink. As a light to medium-bodied white, you want to serve it with a dish not too strong in flavour.
In 1991 Will Davenport planted five acres of vines at Horsmonden in Kent, while simultaneously working for a Hampshire vineyard and, unintentionally, this became the beginning of a life-long business as a wine producer. Now the vineyards cover 24 acres in total, grown on five distinct parcels of land, with nine grape varieties and a multitude of soil types and micro-climates. The vineyards are mostly at Horsmonden in Kent, with a smaller vineyard (Limney) next to the winery at Rotherfield, East Sussex. Will was always a keen supporter of organic farming and in 2000 he made the decision to convert all the vines and winery to organic systems, certified by the Soil Association. At the time this was a huge risk, but ultimately the vines are in great shape, the fruit quality is second to none and the wines show a depth of character that he believes could not be achieved with the use of chemicals in the vineyard and winery. Having studied winemaking at Roseworthy Agricultural College in Australia, Will then worked in the London wine trade and has done a variety of stints working in Alsace, California, Australia and the UK before setting up his own winery. He also looks after the rest of the farm at Rotherfield which includes a small flock of Wiltshire Horn sheep, some bees and a lot of wildlife and woodland. A true Sussex Wealden farm landscape! Growing superb grapes is crucial to making the best wines. If the grapes are less than perfect, the winemaker has to manipulate the wines to get the right balance and in the process, the character of the wine is lost. Davenport vines have been established over a 25 year time-frame on these five separate plots of land. Most of these were apple orchards before the vines were planted. The soil types, aspect and micro-climate vary between sites with particular grape varieties being selected to best suit their environment and the prevailing conditions. All the grapes are picked by hand. Everything is done to limit the impact on the environment, including making wine. That is why Davenport try to make wines with as little energy as possible, mostly generated on site by solar panels. In addition to the existing official organic winemaking restrictions, Will endeavours to produce wines as naturally as possible. This involves not adding commercial yeasts, keeping sulphites as low as possible and avoiding filtration wherever possible.