Over half a million years, our part of the Chiltern Hills has been shaped by the retreating Thames, leaving behind an environment ideal for creating world-class sparkling wine. Alas, the same flint rocks that make our single vineyard estate a dream for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, also make it a nightmare to work and cultivate – as two broken harrows testify. But then nothing worth treasuring ever came easy.
Grown, picked and expertly blended by the same team on the same site, each glass of Harrow & Hope is a tribute to traditional method viticulture and winemaking, to the unique characteristics of Marlow and to the spirit of adventure.
A LABOUR OF LOVE
I am part of a family obsessed with wine for 50 years. All I’ve ever known thanks to my parents is vineyards and wineries, from staggering around Chablis Grand Cru vineyards in my nappies, to making my first wine (pineapple!!) aged 13.
I met my wife Kaye at Durham University, a girl who stuck with me for years whilst I disappeared to Australia and France to do harvest for months on end. Marrying in 2008 we headed off to rural France to set up our first vineyard project at Chateau Verniotte in Castillon, Bordeaux. Although we still love the place, we wanted to start a family in England. And just at that time it had become clear, thanks to the work of others, that the chalk hills of England were capable of producing Sparkling Wines that were more than just good; that were world-class.
We decided to begin a sparkling wine project. We searched for and eventually found our perfect site on the rolling hills behind Marlow. Vines planted, two kids born, winery built and 7 years later we’re ready to delight the world with our fizz. Oh! and we also have a vineyard dog called Alfonse, he’s French, rescued from the streets of Bergerac!
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
For 7 years it’s just been myself, Kaye and Alfonse (now Alfie). I drive the tractor and make the wine, Kaye makes sure I don’t spend too much and keeps the business stable whilst Alfie catches any rabbits daring to enter his vineyard…it’s a close-knit team.
But along the way we’ve had an immense amount of help from family and friends, and a few experts as well. Before he sadly passed away, we had a lot of help from Mike Roberts OBE and his family Tamara and Simon from Ridgeview; the greatest pioneers of the fledgling English sparkling industry and who we all have a lot to thank for. Without their previous groundwork and kind help we would never have been able to start at such a high standard.
We also enjoy a bi-annual visit from Dr Tony Jordan, the great Australian sparkling pioneer, working for Moët et Chandon, setting up for them ‘Green Point’ and other sparkling wineries around the world. Tony is a hard taskmaster, but above all a blending master; an area where you never stop learning. Without these people, and the devotion of our family and friends, we would not be where we are today.
“I am astounded by the quality Henry has achieved from such young vines. The future of Harrow & Hope looks bright.”
Dr Tony Jordan