Members of our Club, their partners and guests learnt a great deal about winemaking during a visit yesterday to Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham, near Canterbury.
The weather may have been hot, but our members were in good form and treated to an interesting tour and experience - in what was our new President's first event of his Presidential year.
The Simpsons Wine Estate has a total of 90 acres (30 hectares) of vineyards in production, having first planted 30 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir in 2014. A further 60 acres of the same three grape varieties were established in 2016 and 2017.
Our members and guests were given a walking tour of one of the vineyards and received a high quality explanation of how vines are planted and cultivated. They also learnt about maintenance over the subsequent years. Types of soils and climate that were suitable for growing the grapes were outlined, as were measures taken to protect the vineyards from frosts (something a little hard for us to imagine, given the heat of the day!)
Members and guests then returned to the vineyard buildings, where they were told how the grapes were processed and learnt about the effect of different pressings of the grapes. There was also a description of how the wine was made and bottled. The visitors also learnt about various awards that the different wines have been given.
Simpsons also has a unique little treat for slightly more daring visitors - a helter-skelter at the end of the tour that takes those brave enough to 'have a go' down from the tasting room to the ground floor. President Neil Fraser (and his wife) couldn't curtail their enthusiasm and had a great time going down the slide, as did a few other members. Naturally, the President went first!
Finally, there was an opportunity for the group to sample three of the Estate's wines, namely the Chalklands Classic Cuvee, the Gravel Castle Chardonnay and Rabbit Hole Pinot Noir.
At the end of the visit President Neil thanked Simpsons for an excellent tour ... and, unsurprisingly, many of our visiting group purchased bottles of the high quality wine that they'd enjoyed. Reflecting on the tour, one of the visitors said it was "a lovely event from start to finish. Great company and a fascinating visit - including vineyard tour, superb wine tasting (in their conditioned ‘wine bar’) - plus their never-to-be-forgotten ‘helter-skelter-slide’ experience!"
You can learn more about Simpsons Wine Estate here.
(Many thanks to President Neil Fraser for providing details).
Picture: Members and their guests enjoy a tour of the vineyard. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury, Kent, UK.