Labelling jig

We are getting towards needing to apply our lovely labels to the bottles and it's important to place them in exactly the same place on each bottle, always ensuring they are straight. The options were to purchase a hugely expensive industrial machine, which seemed to go against the artisan ethos of Four Acres Estate, or to go for a hand-crafted traditional solution in the form of a clever positioning jig.

The inspiration for the pictured, highly sophisticated piece of engineering came from Debbie at Shetland Reel Gin ( www.shetlandreel.com ); the best gin company north of the border.

This wonderful contraption was actually made for us by Chip Chipperfield (www.chipperfieldwoodturners.co.uk). His tiny family business operates from a shed in Spellbrook, Hertfordshire and it appears there is nothing Chip cannot make out of wood; the man is a master craftsman!

Dosaging the wine

After disgorging the wine some additional pure cane sugar mixed with some of the residual wine is added to each bottle, an operation that must be precisely controlled as it has a significant impact on the final product.

The operation at Four Acres Estate is handcrafted and great care and love are given to every process. Notice the incredibly sophisticated dosaging machine with a hydraulic lifting system to raise the bottles to the required level to stop the wine overflowing!

Four Acres Estate

The Four Acres Estate is a small family run vineyard and orchard set on a hillside above the Ash Valley in Little Hadham, Hertfordshire.

After a lifetime spent in the travel industry, proprietor Platon Loizou decided he wanted to get back to his Cypriot roots and fulfill a long-term dream of making wine. Since 2010 he has been out in all weathers, getting closer to nature tending his precious vines, nurturing them from saplings to maturity, bolstering his knowledge by consulting at every step with some of the best vinters in the country. Platon is not shy about hard graft, spending countless hours pushing himself along the rows trimming the vines aboard 'Jennifer', the sit-on pruning cart that has saved his back! 

This is very much a family business and Platon is quick to express special thanks to sons Jamie, Alex and Richard and, of course, his wife Sharron, without whose help this project would never have got off the ground.

wines of great britain logoMany lessons have been learnt along the way and everyone involved is excited in anticipation of releasing the first vintage of Four Acres Estate English Sparkling Wine. The simple fact is that making hand-crafted English Sparkling Wine cannot be rushed, especially as Platon elected to go for the best quality by ageing on the lees (a beneficial process pioneered in France known as sur lie). This means the bottles are laid for 18 months rather than the normal 12, and are then hand 'riddled' (turned) twice a day for two weeks prior to disgorging.

The 2018 Blanc de Blancs, Rose and the Sparkling Cider have now been released for sale. You too can revel in this bottled summer sunshine by pre-registering for a case or two via this website.

Four Acres Estate is proud to be recognised as a member producing English Sparkling Wines by both Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) and the East Anglian Vineyards Association.