IT’S ALL ABOUT TERROIR, OR IS IT?
Our vines are rooted in ancient soils. Its all about the terroir, or is it?
Actually, we think that our Sussex climate is just as, if not more, important as the soils themselves. We believe that it is as much our cool climate that allows the flavours in our grapes to develop so perfectly as the ground that they grow in.
For the pure terroiristes amongst us, we’re willing to concede that our vineyards’ geology also plays an important part in the quality of our wines.
Nestling between the parallel chalk escarpments of the North and South Downs lies the Weald. Made up of the sandstone High Weald in the centre, surrounded by the clay Low Weald periphery and the Greensand ridge, which stretches around the north and west of the Weald and includes its highest points.
The High Weald was once an untamed, thickly wooded area with patches of wild grassland and heathland taking its name from “Weald” meaning wilderness or forest. In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded that the High Weald was the most densely wooded area of England and, to this day, has the highest proportion of Ancient Woodland in the country. It is a landscape of particular loveliness celebrated and protected as The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Mayfield sits on the southern edge of the Sussex High Weald on its own ridge overlooking the headwaters of the river Rother in the sheltered rain-shadow of Crowborough Hill, the Weald’s highest point.
The Wealden Dome
A simplified geological diagram of the Wealden Dome as relating to Kent By ClemRutter.
OUR VINES ARE ROOTED IN ANCIENT SOILS
Ours are ancient soils, laid down when Sussex was sub-tropical. The silts, sands and clays, residues of sedimentation and fluvial erosion, swirl over our land. The sandstones and mudstones that form the vineyards’ bedrocks shape the land around us in a series of ridges and valleys.
These cretaceous sands, silts and clays, folded, faulted and uplifted millennia ago are what remains of the Weald-Artois Anticline, a now-eroded dome that stretched from south-east England to deepest France , topped by the geologically younger Chalk ridges that form the North and South Downs on either side.
Hobdens sits on pure Wadhurst clay, topped with more open clay loam and shot through with layers of rust coloured ironstone shales. Excavations in the vineyard show this layering clearly.
Lakestreet is more geologically varied with swirling deposits of greensand and silty clay predominantly lying over bands of shale and sandstone outcrops.
Such is the lie of the land that the various parcels of vines planted in Lakestreet’s Hawk Field fall instinctively into different soils: Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier on the silts and greensands, Pinot Gris on the loamier slope and Chardonnay on the denser clays.
Lakestreet Vineyard Hawk Field Soil Profile