A little bit of our history How it all began
The vineyard soil is classified as SaSiLo (a sandy silt loam) it has excellent drainage, and is approaching perfect for viniculture. Predominantly it faces north – south. The vineyard covers approximately 1 hectare. The site falls gently from the north west corner to the south east corner and falls 5m over the distance.
Here’s a timeline of how Little Oak Vineyard is progressing:
In 2005 we decided to test the proposed vineyard by planting 5 different varieties of vines to see how they would grow.
They all grew really well so in 2006 we planted 300 Siegerrebe vines.
First grape harvest
The first harvest was from the 300 vines planted in 2006 and it was harvested in Autumn 2009, our first yield was just 14kg which produced a whopping SIX bottles of wine! We consumed all six with friends on the day it came back to the vineyard!
First wine tasting
The first wine tasted for public consumption was 2010 when 370 bottles were yielded from about 400 kg of grapes. The wine had an excellent reception locally and was quickly sold (or consumed by friends) The wine is crisp and fresh, with a good nose. Very much akin to drinking a quality Pouilly Fuisse but slightly cleaner and crisper.
A further 1300 vines were planted, 900 of these being Siegerrebe and the rest Seyval Blanc vines. The Seyval Blanc is a double fermenting variety intended for sparkling wine.
The crop from the established vines – (the original 400) yielded just over a tonne of grapes which produced about 1,000 bottles.
All was going well until mildew struck; within a few hours a blanket of mildew had clouded over the vineyard, destroying the crop. The rate of spread was impressive, the damage extensive.
Another tough year
March was exceptionally mild in 2012, which led to the vines growth being advanced by about 6 weeks against previous years.
Unfortunately, the Cotswolds suffered an unexpected late severe frost which totally destroyed the early growth in the vineyard. This, followed by a wet summer meant there was again no crop from the vineyard.
A better year... finally!
2013 was a good year with a harvest of nearly 3.5 tonnes of grapes.
Lessons learned from previous years, the introduction of a water spray frost control system and the heavy investment in new vines all contributed to a good crop of the Siegerrebe grape, and the very first crop of the Seyval Blanc grapes for the new sparkling wine.
The vineyard has now grown to its current size of 1700 vines.
A misleading year!
Starting as another good year, but as it progressed the weather became more and more overcast with very little sun for the entire summer. The crop was good but the Siegerrebe wine proved to be below the quality we expect. We decided not to sell the wine but to have it distilled into Brandy. We just hope it was the right decision!
Our first batch of sparkling wine
A fantastic year, with the receipt of our first batch of sparkling wine from our 2014 Seyval Blanc Crop!
The Siegerrebe crop was magnificent, excellent results for quality and quantity, with the best figures recorded for acid and sugar levels to date in the vineyard.
Sadly though, the Seyval grapes never quite reached the required levels of sugar. These grapes ripen approximately four to six weeks after the Siegerrebe grapes and the Cotswolds experienced an unusual long spell of cold, damp weather during this time. It was decided (based upon the vineyard’s ethos and quest for quality) to not use the 2015 Seyval grape crop meaning there would be no production of the sparkling wine for 2015.
The vineyard would rather produce no wine of a particular type (in a specific year) instead of wine of an inferior quality.
The best year to date
Our best year to date, fantastic quality grapes, a great yield and almost perfect sugar and acidity readings on the days the grapes were harvested. The still wine was clean and crisp, slightly softer and with a wonderful floral bouquet. The Seyval Blanc vines also performed extremely well and we are very excited to try this batch of sparkling wine in 2018.
A great year for both varieties
2017, Another excellent year, the Siegerrebe had good sugar levels and high acidity and produced a much cleaner, drier more rounded wine that previously. The look and the figures of the Seyval Blanc grapes were spectacular and by far the best figures to date for our sparkling variety.
Largest crop to date
2018 was a magnificent summer and produced our largest crop of both varieties with over 17 tonnes of grapes harvested, comfortably beating the 2016.
Day after day of sunshine and high temperatures brought out an outstanding character to the wine, still clean and dry but with a more fruity taste and nose resulting from the increased level of tartaric acid in the grape juice. We have not yet tasted the 2018 sparkling but the anticipation is high!
A great start and a very wet end to the season
This year, for the Siegerrebe still wine we slightly adjusted the way we decided when the grapes were ready to be harvested. Looking back on the sugar/acid figures of previous years we saw that it could be possible to predict the character of the wine by closely following the change in the figures during the last days of ripening. The result when the wine was tasted was close to what we had hoped for with a crisp, clean taste and a firmer body while retaining the delicate Siegerrebe bouquet. Of course, it may have been a coincidence and nothing to do with our efforts. Picking was a very soggy event this year!!
2019 Sparkling Wine Competition
In March 2019 I (Gemma) came across a competition on twitter for sparkling wine, our sparkling wine is my favourite and I love it so much I felt the urge to enter it, so I did! I needed to wait patiently until around June for the results.
It was worth the wait!!!! In June we found out that we were awarded a Bronze Medal in the Decanter Sparkling wines of the WORLD!!!! In my naivety I thought I had entered a local UK competition so this was an incredible achievement for us and it echo’s how I feel about our spectacular sparkling wine.
After a lot of deliberating we finally decided to invest in a brand new sprayer. After losing quite a lot of crop to Mildew in 2019 we decided this was an essential piece of vineyard machinery. It means we can use less chemicals and have a much more effective result when spraying. Our new toy arrived just before National lockdown in March 2020.
Top 50 Sparkling wines of the WORLD!
In June 2020 Little Oak Vineyard entered a competition hosted by Wine Pleasures. It was 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the world. In November 2020 they announced that we had been awarded a GOLD. This is a huge achievement for our small Cotswold Vineyard.
Read more about this here.
Steve Wilson Founder & Owner
Little Oak Vineyard Ltd is owned by Steve Wilson. It was first planted in 2005 with 300 Siegerrebe vines.
Gemma oversees the day to day running of the vineyard, answering the phone, taking orders and hosting the vineyard tours & wine tastings. Gemma also enjoys being 0utside and tending to the vines.