Nyetimber – pioneers of English Sparkling wine

English Sparkling producer Nyetimber has been a forerunner for the wine business in the UK. Also today they are pioneers, both when it comes to sustainability and to convince the world that English Sparkling is the future. Nyetimber is also a Global Partner to Star Wine List, and had supported the work of honouring the best wine lists in the world and the teams behind them for a long time.

(Partner story with Nyetimber)

"We are delighted to partner with Star Wine List as they are very much aligned with our values at Nyetimber (focusing on exceptional quality and sustainability) and, most importantly, they share our passion for great wine! Being a global partner has opened many doors for us, enabling us to introduce our Nyetimber wines to a great number of incredible sommeliers from around the world," says Nyetimber Brand Ambassador Zoey Dearsley.

In 1988, Nyetimber planted its first vines of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier exclusively to make traditional method sparkling wines – a concept that was unheard of in the UK and was met with great scepticism at the time. Nowadays, however, more than two thirds of plantings across England are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, so it’s certainly fair to say that Nyetimber pioneered the style of English Sparkling Wine we know today.

"This Nyetimber ‘model’ of traditional method sparkling wines made from these three varieties makes up the lion’s share of English wine production and is undoubtedly the flagship (and most celebrated) style within the category. Thanks, in part, to Nyetimber’s decades of hard work and vigour as the industry leader, there is now much greater confidence in English Sparkling Wine, which has subsequently attracted tourists from far and wide and has given producers the belief and confidence to experiment with new styles. As such, we think there’s never been a more exciting time to explore this burgeoning category, and the future of English Sparkling Wine is undeniably bright," says Zoey Dearsley.

How do you see Nyetimber's role in the category today?
"Nyetimber is incredibly ambitious and we continue to pioneer with new wine styles, activations, partnerships and awards. Indeed, we were the first producer in the UK to officially release a single vineyard sparkling wine (our Tillington Single Vineyard), a demi-sec style (our Cuvee Chérie MV) and a prestige cuvée (our 1086 by Nyetimber)."

"Perhaps most significantly, our Head Winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, won Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in 2018. She was the first person outside of France to win this award and the first-ever female winner. This was a major moment, not just for Nyetimber but for the English wine category as a whole. The world suddenly sat up and took note of the quality and potential of English Sparkling Wine. As the industry leader, Nyetimber is always striving for new heights and, in doing so, is helping to improve people’s perception and understanding of the English Sparkling Wine category."

What are the main focuses for Nyetimber right now, and the upcoming year?
"We are especially excited about our role this year as the official sparkling wine of Team GB at the Paris Olympic Games. Nyetimber will be at the heart of Team GB’s celebrations, contributing to the joyous moments experienced by athletes and the nation. Limited edition Team GB bottles of Nyetimber will be gifted to athletes post-competition and supplied as the exclusive sparkling wine at the Team GB Ball. Nyetimber will also be the exclusive sparkling wine at Team GB House, the team’s hospitality venue in Paris."

In the Winery, our team has their work cut out this year as they must bottle the record 2023 harvest. This is expected to equate to over 2 million bottles for the first time ever!

What about the future, what are your main goals?
"At Nyetimber, our goal is to produce world-class sparkling wines, entirely from our 100% estate-grown fruit. We aim to assert our position on the global wine stage and to convince sparkling wine lovers from around the world that Nyetimber – and English Sparkling Wine – is the future."

You've been working hard with sustainability all along, tell us about that, and what's next in that?
"We’ve always been adamant that enjoying a glass of Nyetimber shouldn’t come at the expense of the land that we cultivate. Around 30% of the total Nyetimber estate is natural ‘non-productive’ hedgerows, windbreaks, woods, gardens, ponds and meadows. We create wildlife corridors for larger fauna, and where possible, the vineyard team uses sonar and kites as a gentle way of preventing damage to the fruit."

"Since 2011, sheep from a local farm have been used in some of our vineyard locations to graze the grass as an alternative to mowers in winter; their droppings make a small but worthwhile contribution to the soil’s nutrients and the reduction in tractor use helps to minimise soil compaction and carbon emissions."

"Pruning waste and pressed grape skins from winemaking are composted and returned to the vineyards as natural fertiliser. Our vineyards are managed on the principle of ‘minimal intervention’; vines are treated with fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides only in areas requiring them, and only once other natural methods have been tried."

"Drones are used to map, view and analyse the health of the vines on a block-by-block, row-by-row level so that any intervention can be precisely targeted to the areas that need it. Viewing vines from above can help to pick up diseases or viruses and stop them spreading, thus limiting the need for spraying to specific areas."

"In terms of the end product, probably the most significant reduction in environmental impact has been the weight of our bottles. Since 2008 our glass bottles weigh 835g, compared with the industry standard of 905g. This results in a significant 10% saving in the number of journeys, fuel consumption and emissions."

"At Nyetimber we are constantly trialling new practices and considering ways we can have less of an impact on the land around us. However, rest assured that with any sustainable practices we put in place, quality must go hand in hand – we will never take decisions that are to the detriment of our wines."

Quality is paramount, and we will never compromise

How many bottles a year do you produce?
"Volumes will of course vary, but over the past five years Nyetimber has comfortably produced over one million bottles each year. However, since we only use 100% estate-grown fruit from our 372 hectares of vineyards (we will never buy in grapes), our wines will always be finite and we must allocate accordingly. In the challenging 2012 vintage, Nyetimber didn’t produce a single bottle because we simply weren’t happy with the quality of the fruit. Quality is paramount, and we will never compromise."

What are your main markets?
The UK market currently makes up 85% of our sales. However, Nyetimber sales are growing rapidly in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, making Scandinavia by far our largest export market. Nyetimber is also now seeing some exciting growth in the Middle East (Dubai & Abu Dhabi) and Japan. Our wines are available in 24 countries and counting."

Published 28-March-2024
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