PASSION, optimism and hard work have seen a Dorset vineyard go from strength to strength.
The award-winning Langham Wine Estate is situated between Puddletown and Milborne St Andrew, surrounded by the beautiful Dorset countryside.
The wine estate was planted in 2009 and the wines have since won accolades around the world.
Last year saw its wine receive two gold medals and also retain the Vintners’ Trophy for most outstanding wine, at the recent English and Welsh Wine of the Year competition.
Langham Blanc de Blancs 2011 won Gold in the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and Gold in the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC), in the Bottle Fermented Sparkling category.
The IWC judges said it was ‘elegant and pure – lemon and honeyed with freshness and balance. ‘Good buttered brioche with citrus notes, this wine is delicately balanced and long.’ The IWC also awarded a silver medal to the vineyards’s Classic Cuvée 2011.
For the second year running the estate was also awarded the Vintners’ Trophy for the Most Outstanding Wine in the English and Welsh Wine of the Year competition, for the Classic Cuvée Reserve 2011.
Extremely limited, it is produced from carefully selected parcels of barrel-aged wine, bottled without being fined or filtered then aged for 36 months on yeast lees.
This year the team will be releasing their 2014 Classic Cuvée and their 2014 Blanc de Blancs, which they are hoping will do equally well when they are put up for judging at the 2017 autumn competitions.
Owner and founder Justin Langham said: “We are very excited about these. There are some great wines.”
The Langham team also opened a new Tasting Room in July last year, a feature which has gone from “strength to strength.”
In fact, it’s been so successful with visitors that the winery will be opening a café and restaurant offering light lunches as of the summer holidays.
Owner Justin Langham had been farming the land for years before deciding to diversify and work with wine maker Daniel Ham on the wine estate.
Dorset sits on an area of chalk and limestone, which is the same as the Champagne region of France.
The team identified sites on the farm that would be best for growing vines – including those areas that were protected from the wind and frosts. Microclimates can vary from field to field, so choosing the right area for growing was 'very important,' Mr Langham said.
The estate’s first vintage, the 2010 cuvee, won them the top prize at the Judgement of Parson’s Green tasting. Its second vintage won the UK Vineyard Association award.
Mr Langham said: “What makes us different is that we process our own grapes. We are in control of the whole process from vine to glass.”
He added that some vineyards brought in a proportion of the grapes used in their wines, but at Langham they grew and used all their own grapes.
Mr Langham said he went into the wine trade because he could see the potential to create a successful business, rather than being ‘romantic’ about it.
He said: “My main business is farming. I wanted to create a business that wasn’t dependant on government subsidies. I thought there was a future in growing grapes for wine.”
He said, originally, he thought he would sell the grapes on to wine makers, but then the 'passion' took over. Mr Langham said: “I thought it would be great to create our own wine. I knew I didn’t know enough about making wine – that’s where Daniel comes in.”
The wine making process is 'hard work', he added. The team has to go through several processes to ensure the perfect bubbles. This includes bud rubbing, where excess buds are removed from the vines in spring, so that there is not too much foliage and so the budding grapes don’t get too damp and succumb to disease. There is then trimming the vines back, again to improve the access the young grapes have to light, and stripping leaves off to manage the canopy as the vines grow.
Mr Langham said he loved walking through the vineyard and seeing the grapes growing. He said: “I love every aspect of it. This time of year, the vines are growing so fast. Walking around the vineyard and seeing the young grapes improving. It’s exciting to see this years’ crop improve and grow. I just get a buzz out of growing things and seeing them develop.”
He added that he also got a buzz from working in the winery and bottling the wines and seeing the final result of years of work.
When starting out, Mr Langham said he had hoped the vineyard would become as successful as it now has. He said: “I’m an optimist. You always have to hope for the best or you wouldn’t do anything.”
He added: “Life benefits the optimist.”
And as to Mr Langham’s favourite of the wine estate’s varieties? He laughs and said he doesn’t have a favourite, preferring a different one depending on what it will accompany. He said: “Every day I feel like a different one.
“It depends what mood I’m in. I really don’t have a favourite – it depends what I’m eating. Each wine has its own character. I enjoy all of them.”
Langham Wine Estate will be sponsoring the Dorset Echo’s Industry Awards on June 16 at the HIX Academy in Weymouth College.
Mr Langham said they were 'delighted' to be involved, adding: “We are very proud to be part of Dorset’s thriving food and drink scene, but also recognise the wealth of other industries putting our county on the map."
He added: “Since opening our tasting room in July 2016, we have seen lots more visitors to the vineyard and with the steady increase of interest in English Sparkling wine across the country it’s important for us here at Langham Wine Estate to continue with this momentum and tell more people that we’re here."
Visitors to the vineyard can take a tour, visit the shop and Tasting Room and in a couple of months’ time, grab a bite to eat at the café and restaurant too. The Wine Estate is currently open from Thursdays to Sunday from 12noon to 5pm. It will be open across the half term week from Monday, May 29 to Saturday, June 3, from 12noon to 5pm.
For more information visit langhamwine.co.uk, call 01258 839095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.