Located in East Sussex, in southern England, in an area of outstanding natural beauty sits a uniquely local architecturally styled building “Oastbrook” extended from a mediaeval building in grounds that have been occupied since Roman times.
In the past hops were cultivated here. The "Oast" was used to dry hops for brewing ... “brook” is a little stream that goes around the land ending on Rother river.... a river just like the Iberian Ribeiro.
The River is just at the bottom of the land, an abundance of color by the clear water that will take you in a few minutes to the historical “Bodiam Castle” dating from the 14th century.
It is destiny that brings America Ribeiro Brewer here in the middle of this patina of color, taste, and life. It is not by chance that she was passionate about the place. It is a jewel that she wishes to share with others. There is perfect terroir for sparkling wine with all the necessary conditions, geology, climate and relief to vinify a fantastic sparkling wine under the talented oversight of the Maestro of sparkling wine "Dermot Sugrue".
From the birthplace of quality English sparkling wine come wines of freshness, elegance and finesse as unique as America a lady full of energy, character and passion who planted her vines with a wide variety of noble grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.
"My first wine is a sparkling rose traditional method, pressed using a Cocquard press."
“I am also opening a 5 star hobbit house for guests to stay in “she said as she talked about her plans for the vineyard".
The sparkling wine is a fresh pink wine English Jem, embodying the roses around Oastbrook, with fine, seductive, bubbles and an intense aromatic bouquet exploding with freshness and roundness and an extended length, great for opening the palate at the glamorous parties that Oastbrook is famous for.
And as this secret place seduced me I wanted to know the background to this energy, of this know-how ... this dynamic woman who came to England and studied Wine Production at the globally renowned Plumpton College, and then as I continued with America Ribeiro, she surprised me by taking me pen to tell her own story telling me her story.
Story of my vineyard
There was an ancient vine that crept up the side of the old stucco house I lived in when I was a girl growing up in a small town in Bahia, in the North East of Brazil, the vine had twisted itself around the wrought iron balcony on the first floor of the building and pushed the bars to one side. I used to squeeze myself through those bars and climb onto the vine and hold my self there draped in the leaves and gorge myself on fresh grapes.
Perhaps that is where I had my first passion for vines but it would be some time before grapes and I renewed our relationship. After travelling the world in search of my diverse roots I found out I am in fact a little bit English by descent and I settled in the heart of the English countryside in East Sussex, on a beautiful farm by the banks of the River Rother, a stone’s throw from Bodiam Castle.
To me the Oast house we moved into looked like a princess’s castle but it was once a key part of the economy of the valley that had been owned by Guinness for the farming of hops. Those Oast houses were used for drying the hops.
Remembering my childhood, I planted some vines that climbed up the walls of the Oast. The south facing aspect and the temperate climate ensured that I got a bountiful crop even in my second year and I decided to make some wine from the grapes. I had heard of quiet revolution occurring in England with some sparkling wines starting to challenge established Champagne brands.
I started to visit local vineyards and meet the people who were to become my friends and who encouraged me to study wine production at Plumpton College. While I studied I started to look at terroir in our valley and its history. There is sandstone ridge running alongside the banks of the Rother, with a mix of clay and silt from the river, that once spread more widely across the valley and was navigable from the sea.
Iron was smelted here in roman times from the ironstone that lies about on the surface of our fields and is responsible for creating the natural spring that fills our pond. There are many natural brooks around the farm – Gypsy brook, Channel brook and the most prosaic to me Oastbrook, which was the original name of the farm. I decided that should be he name of my wine. While I studied we planted our first vines.
Walking through my vineyard for the first time I closed my eyes, listened to the breeze and remembered home. I like to think that perhaps that Englishman who had travelled to that small town in Bahia saw that same vine growing up the side of the house where I was born, maybe he even planted it.
Maybe he too came back home dreaming of those grapes so I’m tending those vines and making the wine for us both.
Park Farm Oast