Kirsty Smith and Wineservice have been acquainted for many years and we have seen her career in wine-making flourish as she’s progressed from pupil, to graduate to becoming one of the UK’s youngest female Head Winemakers at Herbert Hall Winery where they make world-renowned English sparkling wine.
During her Wine Production study at Plumpton College, she worked at The Cat, West Hoathly. Kirsty was always enthusiastic, committed and determined; a real pleasure to work with. In 2014, Kirsty joined the Wineservice team on trip to Champagne Joseph Perrier and her wine knowledge and dedication to the trade was evident at this early stage in her career. I recall Martin Gamman (MW) being particularly impressed by her inquisition and attention to detail during the trip. Wineservice also arranged for Kirsty to complement her wine studies with some work experience at Familia Zuccardi, Argentina and Ramos Pinto, Portugal. Kirsty adds, “I will be forever grateful to Nick who took a risk on an inexperienced university student and arranged my first two vintages abroad where I gained invaluable experience to prepare me for my career as a winemaker.”
Following an introduction from an ex-Lecturer and after a second vintage abroad, Kirsty began working with Nick Hall, Herbert Hall Estate owner. Kirsty won Nick’s “Rising Star Competition” for new winemakers and was given the opportunity to make 1,000 bottles of her own blend at Herbert Hall Winery with the added prestige of including her name on the label. “At the time, I had just returned from a Champagne trip with Wineservice and was massively inspired by Joseph Perrier’s Blanc de Blancs. So I entered with a proposal for my own barrel fermented cuvée – and much to my surprise I won the competition.” Kirsty was subsequently offered a full- time position at the winery and in 2015 was appointed Head Winemaker.
About the Estate Nick Hall and Kirsty work side-by-side to produce complex, traditional method sparkling wines from the 4-hectare organic Marden Vineyard Estate in Kent.
Late harvests, scrupulous fruit selection, fermentation and ageing in French oak barrels plus an increasing focus on specialist cuveés, set this winery apart as the benchmark for artisan wine-making.
Herbert Hall is committed to Single Estate production, making wines as a pure expression of the soil and seasonal conditions in a unique location. They farm organically because they believe it produces better fruit. Vineyard work – pruning, bud-rubbing, thinning, leaf stripping and harvesting is done by hand.
Herbert Hall Sparkling wines are noted for their balanced elegance and purity of fruit. The main wine is Herbert Hall Brut – a blend of Chardonnay (40%) Pinot Noir (30%) and Pinot Meunier (30%).
The winery has been critically acclaimed for releasing some of the best sparkling wines in the world and was selected by HRH the Prince of Wales to make a special Highgrove Cuveé.
Herbert Hall is poured at the Churchill Hyatt Hotel and more recently Simpson’s in the Strand. Herbert Hall Traditional Method Brut Vintage 2015 and Herbert Hall Traditional Method Rose Vintage 2015 are available to order now.
Kirsty remarked, “Wineservice have had such an impact on my career from the start and it’s brilliant to continue working with them through Herbert Hall.”
Photo credit – Andrew Yates