CONTINUING my boozy theme, I find myself at Botley’s Farm, at the top of Wick Lane, Downton, where Hugo Stewart planted 4,000 grape vines two years ago and which are now ready to harvest, well in a couple of months time.

Botley’s has gone through a few transformations since it came into Hugo’s family in 1947.

Firstly arable, then pigs, then a fertile crop of business units producing a diverse range of products, from hats to peanut butter.

Now he’s added a three-acre vineyard to produce sparkling white wine, something we’re really good at in the UK apparently and soon to knock the French of their perch he says.

The harvest will be in October, where friends and family will wield the secateurs and crop the lot in about two days.

There will be the traditional harvest feast for the workers, which I’m tempted to supply in exchange for a few bottles.

I’m thinking Dorset snails and Downton rabbit paella, traditional fare for the peasants, although a tad more expensive these days with snails costing the same as oysters.

The wine, produced organically and biodynamically, will be ‘made’ locally from three different grapes and bottled separately in a compare and contrast exercise to determine which goes forward into the next three acre expansion program.

‘What’s your ambition’, I asked.

‘To produce a distinctive wine, a unique reflection of terroir, with no added yeast getting in the way of the natural process.’

I asked why the English are becoming so good at producing excellent sparkling wine, obviously I had it down to climate change.

Hugo explained that was partly so, but the chalk here is similar to the Champagne region , whilst advances in viticulture and collaboration between wine makers and growers has been particularly influential.

One group listening to and taking notice of the other group and vice versa.

That’s a skill that could be used more often I’m thinking, not wanting to point a finger, just state the obvious.

He’s confident he will make about 4,000 bottles, ready for drinking in a couple of years time, most of the making happens in the bottle, so you don’t want to let the Genie out too soon.

Hugo has form, he’s been living in the South of France for the past 12 years producing the hugely sought after Le Clos Perdus wine, using the same organic and biodynamic principles.

If you want to reserve a few bottles to pick up in 2020, check out and click on vineyard.

I’m ahead of you and there are quite a few more in the queue.