Hundred Hills | Oxford
Stephen and Fiona Duckett set out in 2009 with one very clear objective in mind: to create sparkling wines to rival some of the finest in the world. Leaving behind successful careers in pharmaceuticals and IT, the couple spent three years searching for the perfect location and looked at over one hundred sites, eventually drawn to the warm slopes and free-draining chalk soils of the Stonor Valley in Oxfordshire.
The land was previously used for lowland grazing, with no crops grown on these soils for nearly five hundred years. In 2014, the Duckett family, together with an experienced team, planted more than 60,000 vines across 42 acres of fallow land - today there are 84,000 vines. Surrounded by ancient woodland, Hundred Hills’ vineyards sweep dramatically across the Stonor Valley in a natural amphitheatre of vines, rising to hilltops at 180m. Sustainable viticulture is now a way of life. Hundred Hills shares the findings of its sustainable VineSignal project with Europe’s winemakers. This low-orbit satellite data process monitors soil and climate changes and detects early signs of disease.
Fiona and Stephen have put sustainability first in designing their state-of-the-art winery. To this end, the estate is actively working towards reducing its carbon impact year on year, with net zero as a clear near-term goal. It is evident that sustainability was a key consideration in the winery design, with naturally vented cooling systems used during the night to keep the winery at a stable temperature all year round and real-time energy and water controls in place to help limit usage. Very little transport is required as the winery is located in the heart of the vineyards, allowing for quick and efficient processing of the grapes. As part of their VineSignal project, Hundred Hills became the first vineyard in England to actively use low-orbit satellite data collection to monitor soil, nutrients and vine health.
The unfaltering attention to detail shines through in every aspect of production at Hundred Hills and it is unsurprising that the estate is fast gaining recognition as one of the most ambitious and exciting names in the English wine industry.