Meet award-winning English sparking wine grape-grower Augusta Raimes
We’re delighted to share the same soil for growing our wonderfully scented sustainable English flowers with English wine grower Raimes. Raimes is a family boutique vineyard producing multi-award-winning sparkling wines, located just around the corner from us in Hampshire. The farm is tended by Augusta and Robert, the fifth generation of the family to farm the land. They planted ten acres of classic champagne grape varieties back in 2011 because the chalk terroir of the South Downs (which is shared with our flower farm) is perfect for cultivating these strains of grapes as it has the same geology as the Champagne region of France. We’re delighted to add Raimes Classic English Sparkling Wine to our online shop – we feel it makes the perfect accompaniment to one of our celebratory bouquets.
We caught up with Augusta Raimes to find out more about her Hampshire vineyard and sparkling English wine.
Why did you decide to focus on growing classic champagne grapes?
Our chalk slopes are ideal for growing grapes as they have the same geology as in the Champagne region of France. The vines thrive on the chalk, and the chalk lends a certain minerality to the wines. We realised we were in such an ideal location when other wine growers expressed interest in a particular block of land. Being farmers and growers, it was fascinating for us to find out more.
England’s climate can now ripen certain French varieties of grapes, and the classic Champagne varieties are starting to produce really well here.
What makes your English sparking wine different from French champagne?
In blind tastings and competitions the English are doing every bit as well as, and sometimes even beating, the French – we have won some amazing awards for our wines. The slow, gentle ripening of the grapes through a long growing season – we usually harvest in mid to late October – allows the character of the fruit to really shine through. It is the same hand-grown product and the same traditional method of fermentation as in France, but exciting flavours and characteristics are starting to really stand out in English wines. English fizz can be very much more interesting on the palate – our multi-award-winning Raimes Classic English Sparkling Wine is bursting with ripe apple, hints of stone fruit and toasty background notes. It is elegant and stylish, with fine soft bubbles.
What can people expect when they come for a tour of your vineyard?
Our tours are relaxed and informal, and always hosted by one of the family. We take in aspects of the family farm on the way to the vineyard, where we stroll among the vines and talk about how we grow our grapes. Afterwards we return to the wine barn to taste our wines.
Tell us a bit more about the Raimes family team?
Robert and I are the fifth generation to farm the land now flourishing with vines. And with the help of my parents and sister and (sometimes) the children, it really is a family affair.
What's does a typical day on the vineyard look like in late autumn?
We harvest our grapes in the autumn so it is a particularly busy time. Grapes are picked by hand and collected into small baskets before being transported to the winery, where they are pressed very gently. Even though two of the grape varieties we are growing are black grapes, the gentle pressing means the wines are white.
We are harvesting as we speak. We have a few more days to go next week, then we’ll take a well earned break before we start the winter work in the vineyard. Each of our 13,000 vines must be pruned by hand, which is a long and painstaking process.
We’re offering you the chance to WIN a bouquet of our luxurious scented flowers, a bottle of Raimes Classic English Sparkling Wine and a tour of both Raimes vineyard and an exclusive invitation to our nearby flower farm (which we don’t normally open the doors to) accompanied by our founder Rosebie Morton. You can click here to enter now or shop Raimes Classic English Sparkling Wine here.