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Hoffmann & Rathbone Meet the experts putting Sussex wines on the map

The Hoffmann and Rathbone winery was established Profile in 2010 by Ulrich Hoffmann, a winemaker who trained in Germany and has more than 15 years of international winemaking experience. “I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this career that has situated me in some of the most beautiful places,” says Ulrich, “and so far I have worked at ultra-premium wineries in Spain, California and France.” What brought him then to settle in the sunny, but perhaps less famously glamorous Sussex? Love.“It was an amazing time, but after meeting my wife who was living in Brighton, I wanted to settle down and start a family. Our final choice of home was between California and England and in the end we decided it had to be England to be close to family and because, believe it or not, it offers the better wine potential of the two! “The English wine industry although still small is growing in reputation and professionalism every year. It was in 2010 that we decided to start our new business, Hoffmann & Rathbone, and we managed to find a great location in the heart of English winemaking country in Ansty, West Sussex (near Haywards Heath). At our winery, we produce our English Sparkling Wines. This is an ultrapremium product made from grapes sourced locally in Sussex and Kent, creating an exclusive and delicious product which is enjoyed by wine lovers the length and breadth of the country, although obviously locals think it’s extra-special!” The wine business is not all romance though. It is, after all, a business, with inherent challenges just like any other, and Hoffmann & Rathbone’s success can partly be

attributed to Ulrich’s experience and foresight in weathering these difficulties. “The challenge with making bottlefermented sparkling wine via the traditional method, as we do, is that it has to age in the bottle for many years,” explains Ulrich. “With a lot of upfront investment and a product that matures for a long time, careful planning is critical for a business to succeed. We decided therefore to set up a second business to offer a contract-based wine making service for local wine growers to offer our expertise to others. “The way this element of our business

when one of our wines was served on the Royal barge for the Queens Diamond Jubilee Celebrations last year and another wine won a gold medal and trophy in the 2013 international decanter wine awards competition.” Just in case all this has made your mouth water, we asked what the star products for this summer are. Newly released is the limited edition Hoffmann & Rathbone Rosé Réserve 2010. This first has already managed to secure five international awards, including a Gold Medal in the China Wine and Spirits Awards “Best Value” and The

“What a treat. It started with unpacking the bottles, admiring the labels and pouring the light rosé bubbles into the glasses. And what a delight when the first delicate aromas reached our noses.” - A Hoffmann and Rathbone Customer works is that local wine growers bring us their grapes and we use our expertise to make and bottle the wine for them to sell. We work closely together with the growers to ensure that grapes are harvested at the right time and they get their say in the wine style they want us to make. “The last three years have been very hard work and often challenging. Whilst we had plenty of experience in winemaking, we had no experience setting up a business so it has been a steep learning curve. But, the product was good enough to see us through the challenges of starting up a business in today’s climate. We were very proud

International Wine Guide Spain, Silver in the national UKVA Competition and Bronze in the IWC, IWSC and the Decanter World Wine Awards. Like any good vintage, it is a limited edition and only offered to Hoffmann & Rathbone customers via exclusive allocation via the website. “We are surrounded by a growing number of rich, large investment vineyards in the South East. We had to come up with a business concept that worked in this fast changing industry, therefore in order to differentiate ourselves we decided to build our business around our core strength which is the winemaking itself. What is unique about

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Sussex Business Times Issue 371  

SBT August 2013

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