Tim Phillips isn't just about wine: he may make wine from one of the most beautiful vineyards we've seen in a Victorian walled garden, but he equally loves the art of coppicing, having bees on the property and simply examining nature's ongoings. All of these elements contribute as much to his wines as his cellar does.
"There are all of these ‘Winemaker of the Year’ awards, but really when you make wine you either let the grapes do their thing or you f&*k it up. As a winemaker, you’re at a disadvantage if you haven’t been in the vineyard. You lose a potential of understanding."
People: Tim Phillips
Place: Hampshire, UK
Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Size: One acre
Farming: Organic with elements of biodynamics. No-till
Wines: Click here
Did You Know? Tim wasn’t always a fully-fledged wine geek, walled garden repairer and conservationist. Once upon a time, he worked in the financial sector of the oil industry. However, a move to Italy and the obligatory wining and dining that comes with the territory made him realise that he was falling for the notion of wine and agriculture than the keyboard and number crunching grind (although the latter has definitely helped him with the business side of things).
Still working in South Africa at the time, when Tim came back home for a while in 2007, he stumbled upon the aforementioned walled secret garden. It seemed like too much of a sign to ignore. The garden was a short walk from his house, and it had an adjoining section of what once would have once been a lawn with beautiful old apple trees and even a Victorian tennis court buried under several centimetres of topsoil formed from the decades years of being abandoned. It had been sold off from the manor house that sits next door, as the hotel group that had purchased the manor didn’t want the land. Tim got lucky, despite there being quite the mound of work lying ahead.
“It took me two days to get from one side of the walled garden to the other. It had become its own forest. I don’t think it has ever seen a chemical.”
Tim planted his original vines of Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in 2008 from vine material that came from Germany. Why those varieties? Well, simply put, because he likes them, and because he could see potential for them in this climate and on his gravel soils.