Breaky Bottom is an isolated farmstead set in a beautiful secluded valley in the South Downs. There are six acres of vines and a flock of 40 ewes graze the surrounding steep banks. Peter Hall planted the vines in 1974. At this time there were only about a dozen vineyards in the whole country, now there are over 400.
Peter realised that there was a good potential for grape growing and winemaking in the UK. The climate is very similar to that of the near continent and the free-draining chalk soil finds its equivalent in Champagne. In the early years the vineyard’s reputation was established making elegant Loire-style wines with the variety Seyval Blanc. The 1990 vintage won a Gold Medal in the 1993 International Wine Challenge. Seyval Blanc is still the principal variety but now the vineyard produces 100% sparkling wines following the Méthode Champenoise to achieve a high quality Sparkling Brut. More recently the classic Champagne varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier have also been planted.
Although Breaky Bottom is a small scale family-run business it is able to produce top quality wines which have gained a reputation for excellence and which command a premium in the sparkling wine and Champagne market. Peter and his wife Christina take advice from world experts; Jean-Manuel Jacquinot a respected wine-maker from Champagne makes regular visits, and Dr Richard Smart from Australia consults on Vineyard matters.
Attention to detail is essential. Care of the soil and the vines ensures that only clean ripe fruit are harvested in the autumn, allowing the full expression of terroir unique to each vineyard. Over the years investments have been made in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and a cellar, both crucial for quality wine-making.