Following 28 consecutive days of frost in April 2021 Angus Crowther at Tuffon Hall Vineyard is hoping for more favourable weather this spring. Frost can have a devastating impact on wine production as freezing temperatures can severely damage opening buds and young shoots on the vines. Last year Angus was unable to produce any Chardonnay as a result of the consistently cold temperatures.
Elsewhere on the farm this year the wheat crop is well established but large numbers of fallow deer have had an impact on barley crops. Bee-friendly borage will be planted in late May.
In 2019, the family converted a 16th century threshing barn into a beautiful Cellar Door venue, initially used to host vineyard tours and wine tastings, but now also hosts weddings and other events. There are 20 weddings booked for this year and with Covid-19 restrictions finally lifted, the Crowther family is looking forward to being able to welcome newlyweds and their guests once again.
“It has been a turbulent time for both farming and for our diversification enterprises over the last few years,” says Angus. “We are often a hostage to the weather in terms of our farming business – but that is nothing new. But the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two-years has caused significant disruption to our diversification enterprises, including our wedding venue.
“We’re looking forward to this spring with cautious optimism now that Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted and we’re really excited to be able to host weddings once again.”
Alongside a 6-bed farmhouse holiday accommodation at Tuffon Hall, a brand new glamping venture is the latest diversification project. This includes a spectacular grain silo conversion. There has already been significant interest in the glamping facilities and the Crowther’s are looking forward to having their first guests this spring.
In May, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is hosting its Essex AGM at Tuffon Hall. The visit will include a tour of the vineyard, Cellar Door and a look at the conservation work that is undertaken at the farm.
Over 10 hectares of wild birdseed and over 10 hectares of pollen and nectar rich plants have been planted at the farm. The farmhouse is heated using a biomass boiler whilst the Cellar Door is heated using ground source heating. The grain stores are powered by solar panels.
Speaking ahead of the AGM at Tuffon Hall CLA East Regional Director Cath Crowther said: “Our AGM season is a fantastic opportunity to get back out after two years of Covid lockdowns and meet members, old and new, to learn more about their businesses. These events are not only great social occasions, they also offer insight into how other farms and estates are building their rural businesses.
“Tuffon Hall has a wide variety of activities taking place that will be of great interest to our members and we are looking forward to the visit.”