It is fitting that on the 30th anniversary of the very first harvest of their Sway vineyard, winemakers Mark Barber and Paul Cartmell have won two world awards for their wine.
Marlings Vineyard at Mead End Road was planted by John and Patricia Wright in 1990 and produced its first harvest of grapes the following year.
Mark and Paul took over in 2013 after moving from London, replanting a third of the two-and-a-half-acre plot with more classic varietals for sparkling wine, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Their wines, which are crafted on-site by winemaker Piotr Nahajski, have won an impressive number of industry accolades over the years and 2021 was no exception – the sparkling rose won a silver medal in the Competition. international wine and spirits and still white also won silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
“If someone had told us, when we acquired a small vineyard in Sway, that we would win international awards, I wouldn’t have believed them,” said Mark. “We were against the best in the world, so that’s something we’re especially proud of.”
The couple attributed their success to the exceptional quality of their wine, the product of practical and attentive cultivation, and a commitment to keeping the business small-scale and sustainable.
“It’s the quality of the wine that matters to us and that boils down to a good household,” says Paul, who grew up on his parents’ farm in the Northwest and has a background in marketing.
“With well-managed vines, the quality is reflected in the grapes.
“But it’s not easy and we are always at the mercy of the weather. There was a frost in April which delayed the entire harvest by four or five weeks, delaying the ripening of the grapes.
“On average we produce between 2,000 and 3,000 bottles a year, but this has been a tough year and we know our yields will be lower – that’s life. It’s disappointing when you’ve worked hard in all the conditions, but we have to work with the weather.
“As an English wine producer, climate change is working in our favor, but we are still at the limit of producing cool climate wine. There are around 700 wineries in the UK, but of these only around 100 have their own vineyards.
“The others sell their grapes or have someone else make the wine for them.”
Mark and Paul are helped harvest each year by volunteer gatherers from the community, including neighbors, friends and customers.
Grapes grown at Marlings include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Dornfelder, Bacchus, and Seyval Blanc.
“We’re still a secret from New Forest,” said Mark, who previously worked in public relations. “A lot of people don’t know this vineyard exists, but we have focused and will continue to focus on the New Forest.
“With all of our resellers, whether it’s a retail business or a restaurant, there is a connection and that makes it special. With other wineries, including Setley Ridge and Brook Hill, there is a genuine friendship and partnership where we help each other and respect what each other is doing.
Marlings supplies various shops and restaurants in the New Forest, including Elderflower and East End Arms in Lymington, Cottage Lodge Hotel and Rosie Lea in Brockenhurst, Budgens in Sway, Welcome stores and Setley Ridge Farm Shop in Brockenhurst, Shappen Stores in Burley, and Shallow Mead Farm Shop in Boldre. Mark and Paul also provide the Roots restaurant in Southbourne.
Customers can purchase directly from their website at www.marlingsvineyard.co.uk