FH: stories | Terlingham Vineyard

Set in the Kent countryside at Hawkinge, with views across the English Channel, is a family-run vineyard that was named in The Times earlier this year as one of the top UK vineyards to visit.

In just ten years, and from a standing start with no experience of winemaking or farming, owners Graham and Lorna Wilks, together with their daughters Jackie, Caroline and Ashleigh, have poured their passion for wine and sustainability into creating an eco-friendly vineyard that’s winning awards for its wines and has become a destination for its tours, tastings and short breaks.

Terlingham Vineyard’s location provides the perfect chalk-soil conditions for growing grapes that produce light English sparkling wines and can be compared to the Champagne region in France. Its setting also makes it a great place to stay, with three en-suite rooms overlooking the vineyard available.

Graham, Lorna and their family moved back to the UK from South Africa, and purchased the vineyard in 2011. The family are dedicated to protecting the environment, and seven years ago they moved to all-natural farming methods.

Jackie says, “We do everything in the vineyard by hand. This is to ensure our wines are made in a traditional, low intervention way – they are bespoke to us and are given that attention to detail. Our customers and guests enjoy that ‘home-grown’, personal feel, and knowing they are supporting a sustainable local business.”

Jackie credits the close-knit local community for supporting their success. She shares: “We love being a part of the Hawkinge community – this area of the district is creative, exciting, and growing every day which is inspiring to work in. People are so friendly and welcoming, and meeting them has been a wonderful part of our experience running the vineyard. There’s a lot of pride amongst the small businesses who operate here.”

The family have plans to grow the range of products and experiences they offer.  ‘Mindful Moments’ was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – customers receive a delivery of goodies from the vineyard to enjoy alongside a half an hour online meditation experience.  “We realised what a toll the pandemic was taking on people’s mental health and wanted to offer something that could help. We couldn’t welcome people to the vineyard in that time, so we thought we would bring a little of the calm we find in the vineyard into guests’ homes! It’s been extremely popular; I think the idea has really resonated with so many people. It’s also great to share our Mindful Moments box of treats with customers and introduce them to the workings of the vineyard.”

The company now offers guest meditation retreats in the vineyard and woodland around.  The next 12 months will see the family working with an independent distiller to create a Terlingham Gin, made of course with all-natural ingredients.

Find out more here:  terlinghamvineyard.co.uk/wines

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