Geographically closer to France than the UK and standing outside the United Kingdom, Sark has given over two percent of its land to grape production and now seen its first grape harvest that took place under the direction of Bordeaux winemaker Dr Alain Raynaud.
Around 100,000 vines have been planted in Sark’s vineyards. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Savagnin are the main varietals planted across 11 hectares, along with small parcels of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Albariño. The soil on Sark varies between gravel, sand, granite and schist.
At the end of October, around 30,000 vines were picked by hand in Sark’s first harvest and it is expected that the very first wine will be a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Savagnin. A new label and name for Sark’s first wines are also in planning stages.
Dr Raynaud said: “We had a warm summer on Sark so the grapes were able to evolve well and produce quality fruit. Sark’s first grapes are showing us a good balance between acidity and sugar. We are now beginning our journey to make an excellent quality sparkling wine for Sark, using the Champagne method of production.”
Dr Raynaud and his team include French winemaker Etienne Longuechaud and vineyard specialist David Pernet. Sparkling wine will be produced in the traditional method used in Champagne – and by experienced Champagne winemaker Mark Quertenier.
Sark’s wine regions are Rondellerie, Beauregard and Jaspellerie where a state-of-the-art winemaking facility has been established by Sark Estate Management, which has made investments of around £1 million in Sark’s vineyards to date.
Kevin Delaney, managing director of Sark Estate Management, said: “Over the past 18 months, Alain and his team have undertaken extensive analysis of the soil types here on Sark and have planted the varieties of grapes that will best thrive here.
“We will put Sark on the world wine map for producing first class sparkling wines and still white wines. This, our first harvest, takes us a step closer towards achieving our objectives.”
The island’s new vineyard areas have potential to produce around 100hl of wine.