To create the finest English wines in a sustainable way by marrying technical expertise with sensitivity to the grapes both in the field and in the winery giving our wine drinkers an excellent experience. Our philosophy is to let the grape variety speak whilst maintaining high standards of care in the vineyard and winery, respecting the fruit and the natural elements of winemaking with minimum intervention allowing the wine to evidence structure and aromaticity.
At the Chet and Waveney Valley Vineyard we grow grapes of the highest quality and treat them with sensitivity in the winery by maceration, control of oxidation, cool temperature fermentation, cold stabilisation; and carefully controlled fining and filtering.
Using the above techniques we capture the varietal character, aromas and flavours. We are a learning organisation challenging convention, researching and piloting a range of techniques used in wine making across Europe. We do this by meeting European winemakers first hand and exploring their processes suited to the UK climate and terroir in our vineyard. Careful thought by the wine maker can make the difference between good and excellent. We at Chet &Waveney Valley Vineyard strive for this excellence.
History and Terroir
Previous generations of the Hemmant family farmed in Lincolnshire. John Hemmant’s family moved to Norfolk four generations ago and during this time many Hemmants emigrated. One William Hemmant became a draper and politician in Queensland and was responsible for establishing the Queensland coat of arms, the motto of which is Audax at Fidelis which means “bold but faithful”. This is our motto when wine making. We like to take bold strides in technique and the use of varieties but remain faithful to the skills prevalent in the making of good wine.
The Hemmant family have held this land since the beginning of the century. Fred Hemmant, the present owner’s great uncle maintained a stable of horses which has imbued the soil with great organic content. Deeper down the soil is sandy loam, gravel and pure sand down to a level of 1.5 metres. Below this is boulder clay (clay with chalk chips). This terroir offers the grapes a well drained soil which curbs excessive leaf formation, it allows a loose soil structure for worm activity and great root formation. Each vine has a tap root that eventually hits the boulder clay, offering nutrition and an ample source of water for the vine. In this way the terroir offers a good nutrient balance and enough water in times of drought.
The weather of East Anglia offers purging frosts in the periods of dormancy over winter, which allows the killing of vine diseases in the vineyard. We have a nervous time in late April and early May when the buds are bursting as we can easily have a North Easterly from Siberia, offering a wind frost and ensuing bud damage. Our summers bring more sunshine and higher temperatures than the rest of the UK on average allowing our grapes to ripen well. Vintages are very often determined by the weather in September and October. East Anglia is prone to Indian Summers meaning the arrival of a period of calm mild weather well into October before winter commences giving good high sugar and aromaticity in the grapes with low disease pressure.
John Hemmant is a graduate chemist and proprietor vigneron, using a combination of influences of the new world wine makers and researchers, (particularly Professor Amerine of Davis University California) and old world winemaking wisdom gained from numerous visits to winemakers of Germany, France and Italy. John also periodically attends course at the Plumpton Wine College to keep up with the latest techniques and developments in the wine industry.