• Olivia Taylor

English Wine Week - Q&A with Jonica from Fox & Fox Mayfield, East Sussex

English Wine Week is here! Hooray, I hear you say? Another excuse to visit, drink and celebrate your local English wines and vineyards. We've asked our absolute favourite female wine maker Jonica Fox to do a Q&A and share with you why Fox & Fox's award winning wines are some of the best English sparkling wines around. #englishwineweek #lovefoxandfox #womeninwine

O: How did Fox & Fox begin?

J: It was really Gerard’s [Fox] idea first. He came back from a London reception in 2003, inspired by a glass of English sparkling wine and filled with contagious enthusiasm. Within weeks I was enrolled at Plumpton College, and we planted our first vines in 2004. We’ve been flat out ever since: learning, tasting, developing our skills and honing our wines.

O: Where are your vineyards located?

J: Our vineyards are just south of Mayfield. Gerard grew up nearby and went to Mayfield College, whilst his sisters went to Mayfield Convent, so it’s always been a place he loves and we’ve lived here for 26 years now. We both love the rich tapestry of Mayfield village life and the glories of the landscape around it.

O: What is special about your vineyards to make so many award-winning wines?

J: It’s the rich fruit flavours we get from growing on clay and clay-loams and our obsessive attention to detail I think, we focus on growing very healthy fruitful vines in the vineyard and then make small-batch wines, ensuring the delicious flavours of the grapes shine through.

O: How are your vines growing this summer?

J: After the frostiest April and wettest May which held vine-growth back significantly, the vines are now romping away. Growing visibly and making up for lost time. It’s a glorious sight (and very reassuring to see). The two key periods for us now are flowering (pollination) around mid July and the autumn weather when the grapes are ripening. Dry and sunny for both please!

O: Do you have any methods in place to make your wine production more environmentally focussed?

J: Our grapes are grown with a focus on vine nutrition and minimum use of protective anti-mildew products, our wines are made with as little manipulation as possible. We score highly for low road miles and we use recycled or recyclable packaging but we actively try to find further improvements if we can. All of our wines are certified by the Vegan Society so anyone pouring a glass for a friend or guest can be confident that it will be happily enjoyed. It also symbolises the purity we strive for in our wines.

O: Which of your wines is your favourite and why?

J: My favourite Fox & Fox wine is the one I am drinking at the time. For richness and roundness: Tradition or Meunier, for uplifting refreshment: Chairman’s Vat Limited Edition, Inspiration or Essence, just for the fun of it: either Mosaic or Mosaic Rosé, for deep midwinter or the end of a dinner party: Midnight. This week I’ve been really excited about our newly released Expression Rosé 2014 – five years on the lees and such raspberry aromas and red-berry flavours – it’s a complex, rewarding rosé with a lovely citrusy zing in its tail.

O: Where’s your favourite place to eat in East Sussex?

J: It’s been so long since we’ve been out! What I have really missed is slipping into Pink Cabbage for a treat breakfast or a great coffee before or after shopping the High Street, I’m so looking forward to doing that again.

O: What do you look forward to doing every year?

J: A long, long bubble-bath with a glass of our fizz after all our grapes are safely picked and safely in their steel tanks, starting their first fermentation ( their second fermentation comes later on in the bottle, that’s how the bubbles are formed ).

O: Finally, what plans do Fox & Fox have for the future?

J: We have only one dream: to make delicious sparkling wines that people love and love to share. It’s making the very best wines we can and harnessing our passion for sparkling wines by pushing the envelope a little with a few enticing Limited Edition wines to add to the regular wines we make.

Fox and Fox wines are available at Fine Wines of Mayfield and online here or visit Fox & Fox website for more information.

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