Chardonnay Grapes ready for harvest

Who is Kevin Sutherland?

Kevin Sutherland is the winemaker at Bluebell Estate vineyard in East Sussex.  Kevin is originally from New Zealand and brings a most unique palette with him to the South East of England.  He often describes wine using fruits that a vast percentage of the population has never heard of, unless you are from the southern hemisphere.  Who has ever heard of a “tangelo”?

Kevin is married to Sarah Midgley who interestingly works as the winemaking instructor at Plumpton College in East Sussex.  But the family winemaking craft doesn’t stop there, Laurence, who is one of Kevin’ sons is becoming a rather good winemaker and following in his Father’s footsteps and is now also making wine at Bluebell.

Kevin Sutherland at Bluebell Estate Vineyard
Kevin Sutherland at Bluebell Estate Vineyard

Harvest 2020 at Bluebell Vineyard

The harvest for 2020 is looking good for the UK. Some vineyards in Kent have stated they yeild isn’t as high as previous years, but when speaking to Kevin Sutherland last week he mentioned the yield has been spot on with his esimates.

“This year’s harvest is looking good so far and the sugar levels are better than some previous years.  I’m planning to produce some more still wine this year.  We brought some Ortega in to press and the Oechsle measured at 1088 and the acidity is good.  This year looks very promising.”  Kevin Sutherland

Bluebell Vineyard Harvest
Bluebell Vineyard harvest testing grape juice from the press

Is there anything unusual growing there?

Bluebell Vineyard, which also displays the Hindleap label, produces a variety of wines both still and sparkling. Joyce Tay, the late owner of Bluebell, asked Kevin to plant some merlot which he originally was hesitant.  But with good faith Kevin did plant some merlot on the estate in East Sussex.  He now uses the merlot to blend still rosé  wine and also makes a sparkling red with it.

“I was reluctant to plant Merlot in the UK for obvious reasons.  I expect that some years it (merlot) won’t ripen and I won’t be able to do anything with it but chuck it on the ground.  That said, we have been lucky over the past few years and made some excellent wine with the small amount of merlot we have planted” – Kevin Sutherland

Pinot noir
Pinot noir at Bluebell Vineyard

Want to visit Bluebell Vineyard with us?

We visit Bluebell on a regular basis and have been partnering with the vineyard since 2015.  If you want to meet Kevin, just let us know and we can make a winemaker experience for your day out in wine country.

Bluebell Vineyard
Guests Visiting Bluebell Vineyard Estate in East Sussex
Bluebell Vineyard press
Bluebell Vineyard pressing pinot noir