About Our Norfolk Winery
‘A family-run artisan winemaker, striving for quality’
Since planting the first vines at Chet Valley Vineyard over a decade ago, owners John and Bridget Hemmant have worked tirelessly to manage the Norfolk winery with a uniquely sustainable philosophy, deeply rooted in respect for the natural elements of winemaking and their beautiful environment. On-site, they maintain complex permaculture – carefully optimising field space and growing a variety of plants and crops, whilst marrying technical expertise with a unique sensitivity to the grape in the winery. The result? A gorgeous natural space for visitors to explore, and a range of equally sustainable wine, and delectable bottles.
The Chet Valley winery’s experienced winemaker balances long-established tradition with a solid foundation of chemistry knowledge to create the finest English wines on the market. Whilst carefully optimised techniques and scientific study significantly impact the production of our wine, we follow a uniquely sustainable philosophy from planting to corking, aiming to respect the fruit and the natural elements of winemaking with minimum intervention.
We revel in the opportunity to challenge convention, researching and piloting a range of techniques used in UK winery’s and winemaking across Europe, before altering and optimising the most effective to meet our land and process’ unique requirements. By meeting European winemakers first hand and exploring processes most suited to the UK climate and terroir in our vineyard, we have and continue to develop a truly tailored methodology – an active fusion of tradition and science.
Careful thought by the winemaker can make the difference between good and excellent. Chet Valley strives for this excellence, both in production, product, and the winery experience.
History and Terroir
Previous generations of the Hemmant family farmed in Lincolnshire. John Hemmant’s family moved to Norfolk four generations ago, and during this time many Hemmants emigrated. One William Hemmant became a draper and politician in Queensland and was responsible for establishing the Queensland coat of arms, the motto of which is Audax at Fidelis, which means “bold but faithful”. This is our motto when winemaking. We like to take bold strides in technique and the use of varieties but remain faithful to the skills prevalent in the making of good wine.
The Hemmant family have held this land since the beginning of the century. Fred Hemmant, John’s great uncle, maintained a stable of horses which has imbued the soil with great organic content. Deeper down, the soil is sandy loam, gravel and pure sand. Below this is boulder clay. This terroir offers the grapes a well-drained soil that curbs excessive leaf formation and allows a loose soil structure perfect for worm activity and root formation. Each vine has a tap root that eventually hits the boulder clay, offering nutrition and an ample source of water for the vine.
The East Anglian climate offers purging frosts in the periods of dormancy over winter, which allows for the killing of vine diseases. In contrast, its summers bring more sunshine and higher temperatures than the rest of the UK on average, allowing the vineyard’s grapes to ripen well, with vintages that are very often determined by the weather in September and October. The area is prone to Indian Summers (meaning the arrival of a period of calm mild weather well into October), giving high sugar and aromaticity in the grapes, with low disease pressure.
The UK Winemaker
John Hemmant is a graduate chemist and proprietor vigneron, using a combination of influences of the new world winemakers and researchers, (particularly Professor Amerine of Davis University California) and old-world winemaking wisdom gained from numerous visits to winemakers of Germany, France and Italy. A member of WineGB and a true enthusiast, he periodically attends courses at the Plumpton Wine College, alongside online seminars to keep up with the latest techniques and developments in the wine industry.
Chet Winery Experience
Tours & Tastings
Discover the places and faces behind our award-winning wines from amongst the vines or from the comfort of your own home with our range of guided tour and tasting options.
Expert Winery Guide
All vineyard tours and wine tastings held at the Chet Valley winery are led by our experienced winemaker, who possesses an extensive understanding of and experience in both traditional and new winemaking techniques. John’s knowledge and storytelling give our guests the opportunity to gain valuable insight into every aspect of the winemaking process.
Sample Award-Winning Wines
Our heavily decorated wine range is the highlight of our tour and tasting experiences for many of our customers. With our options offering large samples or bottles of between four and six of our best-loved creations, you’re sure to discover a wide variety of delightfully unique tastes, from aromatic whites to fruit-forward rosés.
Experience the Vineyard from Anywhere
With both in-person and online tasting experiences available, the joy of winemaking at Chet Valley can truly be experienced from anywhere in the world – whether from amongst our sun-soaked vines in South Norfolk or from your own home with the assistance of a carefully curated virtual tasting kit and ZOOM session.
Browse Chet Valley Vineyard’s range of artisan still and sparkling English wines, handcrafted using distinct varieties of cool-climate grapes grown in our family-owned vineyard here in South Norfolk.
The grape varieties grown at Chet Valley Vineyard include Solaris, Phoenix, Schönburger, Chardonnay, and Seyval Blanc grown alongside reds such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Cabernet Noir, and Regent, using traditional techniques optimised to our British terroir. From our award-winning Charmat-style ‘Skylark’ wines and flagship Méthode Champenoise, ‘Horatio’, to our varietal stills including our ‘Redwing’ regent rosé, there’s a bottle in our range to suit every palate.
9 months ago via Google
Lovely afternoon touring and learning about the vineyards and tasting the wines with locally produced nibbles. John is an excellent host and passes on technical information easily. A delightful way to celebrate a 60th birthday with a family group and even better being able to cycle through beautiful lanes in the sun to get there .
5 months ago via Google
Fantastic and certainly well worth a visit. John explained every aspect from the vineyard to the production of the wine making. Thank you so much for a very enjoyable experience.
8 months ago via Google
John was great the vineyard itself is lovely. Very informative. No pressure to buy anything after. A very relaxed and lovely day, we had blazing hot sunshine also which made it that even more special. Great work guys!
4 months ago via Google
Very knowledgeable info about the history, vines,wines and nice tour with tasting and nbbes. Lovely sparkling wines.....
6 months ago via Google
We had a wonderful day at Chet Valley! We hired the venue for a family party and enjoyed food and wine on the balcony overlooking the beautiful vineyard scenery. We particularly enjoyed the Horatio Rose Brut which was very refreshing on a hot summers day. We had an excellent tour of the vineyard with the owner, John who was very knowledgeable about not only the vines and the wine but also the local area and all things nature related. He was also very good with the children in our party. I’d highly recommend Chet Valley Wine and also Chet Valley as a venue to hire.
5 months ago via Google
Don't be deceived by the sunny photo below! A friend and I joined a Chet Valley vineyard tour earlier this year, and despite pandemic restrictions and a torrential downpour that even included hail at one point, John managed to pull off an engaging and fun event. It would appear nothing can dampen his enthusiasm. 😉 Chet Valley has a surprisingly wide range of wines of good quality. So if you are in or around Norfolk - or want an excuse to be - I highly recommend paying them a visit. (Warning: you will probably want to purchase a few bottles too...)