Today I had the pleasure of meeting James Scarff at his 1000-acre Farm in Suffolk to learn all about their young vineyard set within the beautiful Suffolk countryside with idyllic views as far as the eye can see. In the middle of the Vineyard sits an ancient and majestic English Oak tree, standing proud against the horizon. A vineyard on my doorstep – who knew?  I don’t think I will ever look at a glass of English Sparkling Wine in quite the same way again…

The process and hard work that goes into growing the fruit is a lengthy one, starting with the preparation of the soil, setting up & planting the vines, protecting them from frost and fungi, cultivating them into mature fruit bearing vines, harvesting… and then of course getting them to the winery for processing. All this requires a few years for the plants to get established. Once established, it is hoped that they have a 30-35 year life span.

James and his father have 3 varieties of grapes growing at their farm – all within a 20-acre field. There are two phases of vines – the first of which were planted in May 2017 and the second having been planted in May this year. The first fruit will be ready for harvesting in 2020, where they will be hand picked. They will then travel to Ridgeview Wines in Sussex to be pressed; 4-tonnes at a time and then matured for 3 years prior to being bottled.

Before planting could start though, James needed to ensure the soil was at it’s prime – and this is where Material Change came into play. We provided James with our PAS:100 0-40mm compost which is rich in nutrients. James has used 50 tonnes of compost per hectare in soil preparation and in 4 to 5 years time will add more – cultivating it in around the vines. The planting was carried out using GPS precision guides resulting in laser straight rows of vines in any direction you look. They are planted 1 metre apart with a two metre gap between rows to allow access for machinery. There are two weather stations situated within the vines, giving James up-to-date meteorology information, giving him weather alerts directly to his mobile phone. The farm recently purchased 4 huge ‘Frost’ fans that will sit at the lower end of the field. These will automatically turn on when the temperature drops below 2 degrees C, to move the air around to prevent the frost settling on the vines – this could be catastrophic should the frost settle on the vines. In total, they have planted 46,000 German vines.

Our most recent compost analysis as below.

CHARDONNAY: A green grape with white flesh, producing white juice

MEUNIER: A black grape with a pale flesh, producing a pale juice

PINOT NOIR: A red grape with a pale flesh, producing a pale juice

These three varieties are required to make English Sparkling Wine as is required to produce French Champagne. To give the wine colour, the red/black skins are left on a bit longer during production to give a red/pink hue.




The UK’s sparkling wine trade has enjoyed rapid growth in the last five years with volume sales up 89% and up 206% by value. The popularity of fizz has helped to boost the English wine industry, which was confirmed by Marks and Spencer who saw a 15% rise in English sparkling wine sales last year.

For information and updates from Scarffs farm, visit their twitter feed;

Photos by Helen Springall and from James Scarff’s Twitter feed.

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