Ben’s interest in wine began as a desire to learn more about the wines of the world but it quickly became an obsession and then a lifelong passion. This led him to quit his job in IT and find out how to become a winemaker.
Ben wanted to do this properly and soon realised that he would need to study in order to learn the ropes quickly and extensively enough. He moved to Sussex and enrolled into a 3 year degree in Oenology and Viticulture at Plumpton College. This greatly influenced his approach to wine, giving him a respect for and fascination of the science of winemaking.
After graduating from college in 2012 with a first class degree and achieving awards for ‘Best research project’ and ‘Top winemaking student’, Ben moved to Beaujolais, France, where he had secured his first winemaking post. Here, he learnt how to ‘throw out the rule book’ and experienced a more intuitive and creative side to winemaking. After two years it was time to return home and begin a new life making wine in England.
A chance email was sent to local farmer and entrepreneur, Adrian Hipwell, enquiring if he might know of any small plots of land for sale in south Norfolk or Suffolk. This area was of interest due to it being one of the driest and sunniest regions of the UK. Ben knew that there were pockets of suitable soil for a vineyard in that area but didn’t know that Adrian currently farmed one of them.
A meeting over the Christmas holidays ensued and immediately the potential was clear. Detailed site analysis followed to confirm initial hopes that the plot was suitable for grapevines and then Flint Vineyard was born. Ben moved to Earsham, Norfolk in 2015.
Since then Flint Vineyard has flourished. There are now over 26,000 vines covering 6 hectares and a state-of-the-art winery allows wine production at the highest level. Flint has gained a solid reputation for producing some of the best premium English still wines. It has also innovated with methods in the winery and products such as the Charmat Rosé, the first sparkling wine to be made using the Charmat method, most commonly used in Prosecco.
Ben and his team are excited about the future and have plans to develop news wines and extend the winery and plantings. The idea is just to keep striving to be better and continue to produce ever more exciting and delicious wines.