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Breaky Bottom Vineyards
by
K.L. Sullivan

Breaky Bottom vineyardsA little piece of heaven may be the best way to describe Breaky Bottom Vineyard. After the trials and tribulations of finding the winery and vineyard, we were unprepared for the beauty we saw as we gazed down upon the cobblestone buildings surrounded by acres of vineyards. Spring flowers added a touch of yellow here and there around the buildings.

 

 

 

chalk landscapeReaching Breaky Bottom Vineyard was an adventure and did take persistence. While parts of the very long driveway, maybe one mile long, were paved with cement, other parts were missing. After cement strips turned to dirt, one must try to navigate the holes haphazardly spread along the narrow driveway. We drove slowly and carefully and came to a stop to allow sheep to move from the road. On the drive we passed outcrops of limestone. The terrain here is very similiar to that in Champagne, France. The driveway curved and sight of Breaky Bottom was not evident until the driveway curved around a hill. At that point a beautiful view of the vineyard can be seen far below. Stone buildings, well cared for vineyards, spring blooming flowers were all seen from high above.

Upon reaching the vineyard and winery sitting at the bottom of the small valley, we looked up at the hills and saw sheep and cows grazing in separate areas. During late March, the hills were filled with the bright green of spring.

 

Breaky BottomThe stone buildings date from 1827 and by World War II the buildings were abandoned and derelict. The vineyards began in 1974 and the first vintage was in 1976. The new owner, Peter Hall, renovated the buildings and an addition was added to the stone farmhouse.

Six acres of vineyards surround the winery and much farmland is available around the site. Interestingly Peter, also the winemaker, has no interest in expanding the winery. Peter knows each individual grapevine he has growing and wants to keep it that way. To increase the size of the vineyard would mean Peter would lose the special knowledge of each vine. He tends to the vineyard, makes the wine and markets it. For Peter, this winery and vineyard is a vertical business.

 

When we arrived at Breaky Bottom, Peter introduced himself and proceeded to take us and other visitors from Northern Ireland on a short tour of Breaky Bottom Vineyards. We entered the converted farm building and saw the stainless steel tanks where we were able to taste wine from two tanks. One was a Seyval Blanc and the other wine was a blend of Seyval Blanc with 20% Chardonnay. Currently Breaky Bottom produces on average about 750 cases of wine.

sparkling wines at Breaky BottomAt the end of the tour we entered the new addition to the stone house and sat at a table. The atmosphere was very relaxed and enjoyable. The table was decorated with beautiful spring flowers, obviously picked from the surrounding selection of daffodils. A friendly gray cat with four white feet approached with curiosity as Peter talked about the wine he produces and entertained our questions and comments. We also had the opportunity to taste several wines. We tasted two sparkling wines. The 2003 Brut was made with Seyval Blanc. The 1999 Brut had a deeper color – gold, with a nice acid balance. The 1996 Muller-Thurgau had a pleasant bouquet, with evidence of a Riesling, a good fruit start and vegetative aftertaste.

Sparkling wine is an excellent wine that can be served at any time. Don’t use sparkling wine just for weddings, christenings and the like. Sparkling wine can be the perfect accompaniment for any meal. Peter believes that the sparkling wine produced in this area of England is as good as the Champagne being produced in France.

 

Breaky Bottom vineyardsWe enjoyed our visit with Peter and appreciate his dedication to his vineyards and his wines. Peter puts his heart and soul into producing wine at Breaky Bottom Vineyard. We hope you will enjoy your visit to Breaky Bottom Vineyard as much as we did.


Breaky Bottom
Rodmell, Lewes
East Sussex
BN7 3EX

01273 476 427 Call ahead to arrange a visit.

 

 


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