Penn Croft: New English Winery Debuts with Two Still Wines

Penn Croft Vineyard

Photo provided

Penn Croft Vineyard

Penn Croft Vineyard

Photo provided

Their winery was only set up in 2020 and the business is run as both a wine estate, Penn Croft, and as a contract winemaking service, Itasca Wines. The first two releases are two white still wines.

Bacchus and Pinot Blanc

Winemaker Ben Smith, who used to head Oxney Estate in Sussex, thinks Bacchus is really at home in England: “We have Bacchus planted on our home vineyard which is due to come on stream this year, so we work with some partner vineyards to help source fruit. Bacchus can perform really well in England and helps us make wines at a reasonable price point that can be fruit-forward but still have texture and interest.”

The other white wine released is made from Pinot Blanc, still a rarity in England, but Smith says: “I’ve always been a huge fan of German Pinot Blanc and was really interested to see what a warm site in the UK could achieve, so we worked with our friends at Missing Gate in Essex to grow this fruit - again the focus is on texture and nuance, not looking to harness lots of aromatics but build complexity and mouthfeel.“

A regenerative approach

The Penn Croft project stands out: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Bacchus vineyards were initially planted in 2019 – which is not unusual in itself. What stands out, is the regenerative agricultural approach of the estate. The vines are trellised in a Scott-Henry system that captures most of the sunlight but also allows for ventilation – which should mean sustainable yields and less disease pressure. England’s changeable and marginal climate does not favour huge yields, so this is a novel approach.

Big pipeline

After these two initial releases from bought-in fruit, the Penn Croft brand will continue releasing wines from its own estate-grown fruit as well as bought-in fruit. Smith explains that a whole range of wines is planned: “Penn Croft is our own brand and the name of the winery – we have the Penn Croft tier wines (the current releases from the 2020 vintage) and then we will also release a single vineyard Penn Croft label from our vineyard here on the farm. We are also developing a second label for wholesale which will be released later this year. “This summer we will release the 2021 Penn Croft Bacchus and the first Penn Croft Sauvignon Blanc, with the 2021 Pinot Blanc due at the end of the year. Additionally next year our first Hampshire sparkling wines will come online.”


2020 Penn Croft Pinot Blanc

2020 Penn Croft Bacchus