We talk to Nathan Maddocks, one of our winemakers here at Lyme Bay, to find out more about him and his job:
How long have you worked at Lyme Bay?
Eight years now! I started in production and despatch and moved to the winery six years ago, which was a great move for me. I love making wine and have learned an incredible amount in that time.
What is your favourite wine / type of wine?
It has to be the humble bacchus. This grape has thrived in England and really become the poster-child for English wine, with good reason. Out of our bacchus wines I would say that Bacchus Block is my favourite – this is a 100% bacchus using grapes from Great Whitmans Vineyard in Essex. The Essex bacchus tastes very different from the ones grown here in the south west, it has more of a tropical flavour. A chilled glass of this is perfect on a warm summer’s day.
What has been your best winemaking experience to date?
Four years ago I went to Plumpton to do a wine course. It was quite soon afterwards that we went into harvest. I learnt so much on that course, and being able to put that into practice straight away was great. We were due to go and spend time at a winery in Burgundy this year, but sadly Covid put a stop to that – hopefully next year!
What are your views on the 2020 harvest so far?
The fruit coming in has been truly excellent. The weather this year has been perfect for the grapes, especially the late burst of sunshine. We expect this vintage to be exceptional. Everything is running pretty smoothly and the winemaking is a collaborative effort – which is great fun. This is the first year that we’re running 24 hour split shifts, which is definitely a better way of doing it as it means we have always got someone on site. If fruit gets delivered during the night, which it often does, we can process it straight away, so the grapes always go straight from the vines to the press. It also means we have someone checking on ferments all the time.
What does the average shift look like for you?
I was working the day shift during harvest, so 6am to 6pm,six days a week. The first thing I did when I arrived in the morning is go round and check all the ferments, and make sure they are all in good condition. I then set up press pad ready for processing the grapes during the day. The day shift tends to be more pressing, and night shifts tend to additions and ferments, so I worked more on the pressing side. I also have other products to make as well as wine – currently we are creating cider and our other big seller, mead.
What are you looking forward to working on the most?
I haven’t managed to do much red wine in the past – the last time we made red was a small batch in 2016. So it’s really exciting to be making pinot noir this year. It’s very different from making white wine. You have to keep on top of it, to constantly nurture it, giving it regular punch downs and pump overs (which sounds violent but is definitely nurturing!) I am really excited to tasting the wine we will create from this.
Which wines are you looking forward to seeing as a finished article based on this harvest?
Same as above, has to be the Pinot Noir. Traditionally, England is not known for its red wine, but the fruit is exceptional this year and we look forward to creating exceptional wine from it.
What do you like about working at Lyme Bay?
I really enjoy the variety of things I have to do, it’s something different every day. At the moment it’s harvest, so it’s very busy with wine making, then cider season in the summer and after harvest we can look forward to Christmas and all the seasonal drinks we make. It’s great knowing how to do several different things as well as English wine. I am also constantly learning and growing my skills. It keeps me on my toes!