The creator of The Pig brand and Limewood hotel is planning to branch out, quite literally, with the creation of his first vineyard.
Robin Hutson is creating a vineyard in the grounds of one of his newest projects, The Pig-in the South Downs, with 4,000 vines planted with hopes of producing wine by 2022.
The hotel is a conversion of the Grade II-listed former Madehurst Lodge hotel near Arundel in West Sussex, which was acquired by the group in 2018.
The plan is to open the hotel next year, with the brand’s usual trademarks of a kitchen garden and restaurant that will source anything not grown on-site from within a 25-mile radius; the wine will be a step closer to cementing that.
Chairman of The Pigs and a wine enthusiast, Hutson said he “has long hankered after making wine in the UK” with Madehurst Lodge “presenting the perfect opportunity”.
In front of what will become the main restaurant, the hotel has a two-acre south west-facing field deemed to be the perfect land for vines to grow – and previously used for grazing alpacas.
The free-draining chalky subsoil with silt and clay, together with the elevation and orientation is said to offer excellent conditions for planting the varietal vines of Champagne and Burgundy, which it’s hoped will yield up to 4,000 bottles of sparkling wine or 6,000 bottles of still wine.
The vineyard works are being carried out by James Dodson of Sussex-based Vine Works alongside The Pigs’ own team of kitchen gardeners.
“The investment further endorses our complete commitment to home grown, to local produce and to local contractors,” said Hutson.
The Pig-in the South Downs is due to open early summer 2021, but opening before that in Cornwall later this year will be The Pig-at Harlyn Bay, adding to six existing hotels.