Secretary of State for the Department of Farming and Rural Affairs
Kent producer welcomes local farming community to meet Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom and MP Helen Grant
Hush Heath Estate, one of the top premium wine producers in England, has hosted a fundraising evening with Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Department of Farming and Rural Affairs, and Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and The Weald.
Producers Richard and Leslie Balfour-Lynn co-hosted the evening in late April at the garden marquee in the grounds of Hush Heath Estate in Staplehurst, Kent, welcoming 80 guests to raise funds for the Maidstone and The Weald Conservative Association.
Richard Balfour-Lynn welcomed guests to Hush Heath Estate, explaining that English wine presents a great opportunity to get people back working on farm land by inviting them to be part of an industry that is very much in its infancy.
“Hush Heath is a bit of a fairy story,” said Richard Balfour-Lynn. “As a family we were presented with an unexpected opportunity to purchase run-down land around our home at Hush Heath Manor. We had no experience in farming and with trepidation planted our first of vineyards of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in 2002, before converting our cowshed into this state-of-the-art winery in 2010, and we are delighted that today Hush Heath Estate is both a place of intimacy and magic. This year we expect to welcome 30,000 visitors to walk through our 400 acres of vineyards, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands, and it’s still completely possible to take a leisurely tour and not bump into a single person. Our doors are open seven days a week and everyone is invited to be part of our English winery experience.”
Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Department of Farming and Rural Affairs, commented: “Drink connoisseurs from across the world are consistently raising their glasses to the fantastic selection of English sparkling wines – and Hush Heath is yet another success story to toast.
“It was wonderful to see how Richard and Leslie have transformed old farm land into a thriving winery in a beautiful setting, and I wish them every success for the future.”
Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and The Weald, said: “Hush Heath is a model of entrepreneurship in a sublime location. Since 2002, under Richard and Leslie’s stalwart stewardship, Balfour Brut Rosé has evolved into a leading international brand in the sparkling wine industry. They are true ambassadors of English winemaking and their work with Hadlow College in developing vineyard apprenticeships is a great pathway for succession in this young and vibrant industry.”
Guests at the fundraising event tasted Balfour Brut Rosé 2013, which is Hush Heath Estate’s signature cuvée, and Balfour Leslie’s Reserve NV, a white English sparkling wine named after Leslie Balfour-Lynn. A cold buffet that championed the best suppliers of food in the county was served from The Goudhurst Inn, which is one of Hush Heath Estate’s two locally-owned pubs with great dining and boutique hotel rooms. The other, The Tickled Trout, recently opened in West Farleigh.
Since the first vines were planted at Hush Heath in 2002, the Estate has grown its offering substantially and now produces a selection of still and sparkling wines and ciders all made from fruit grown in 400 acres of immaculate vineyards and apple orchards.