Interview With The Owner Of Terlingham Vineyard – Jackie Wilks
22nd August 2023
There is no denying that English Sparkling Wine is on the rise, becoming an undeniable contender to Champagne, and although it still has some way to go in convincing the rest of the world, to the English, it’s becoming a fan favourite and a go-to Glass of Bubbly, its quality is improving with each year and thanks to innovators and those willing to follow their dreams, the choice of English Sparkling Wine is expanding.
In this article we speak with Jackie Wilks, the incredible mind behind Terlingham Vineyard, producing award winning English Sparkling Wines. Let’s discover a little about her time in the English Wine Industry.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I’m one of 3 sisters in the Wilks family, and together with my parents we run Terlingham Vineyard. We’re originally from South Africa, although my grandpa on my dad’s side is from Ashford so in a way we have come full circle as the vineyard is in Folkestone, just down the road!”
How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?
“It was a mix of luck and seeing an amazing opportunity! We moved to the UK in 2007 and in 2011 my parents wanted to move to the coast, and found this incredible house on the market with a vineyard “thrown in” as part of the property. It had been planted in 2006. The English Wine industry was still in its infancy then, but there was just something about it that felt very exciting. We ran it as a passion project for a while, and started seeing the incredible interest and excitement building around English Wine, in particular English Sparkling Wine, so 5 years ago my sister Caroline and I left our London careers and started working on building the business full time. (I was an in-house solicitor and Caroline a civil and structural engineer who moved to consulting with Deloitte). Our mum is head farmer, and we now offer wine tastings on site, as well as selling our still and sparkling wines via our website and to trade.”
What Influenced You To Create Terlingham Vineyard, and Start Producing Your Own English Sparkling Wine?
“When we bought the vineyard, it had just started producing some grapes and had a few harvests. It is perfectly sited, planted in gorgeous chalk soil (the same seam of chalk that runs from Dover to the Champagne region), south facing slope over the North Downs to the English Channel, and gentle sea breezes. We saw the English Wine industry was starting to grow, and produce absolutely top notch quality wines. We felt there was an incredible opportunity. We do all of the farming ourselves by hand, and work with the wonderful Defined Wine to make our wines. We do all of our riddling, disgorging, corking, caging and labelling by hand ourselves here at the vineyard.”
What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing English Sparkling Wine?
“In the early days, one of the biggest challenges was getting the word out that English Sparkling Wine is as good quality as wine from any of the other top regions in the world. It was all so new that many people had never heard of it, or tried it. Now, that is completely different – there is so much support for local producers from customers, both DTC and trade. At the moment, the biggest challenge we are coming up against is scale really. We are still very small, so sourcing bottles, packaging etc at small scale is often trickier than we would like!”
How Do You See The Future Of English Sparkling Wine?
“Very bright indeed! The quality is so good, and our customers so positive and supportive, that we are very confident in the future.”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
“On the beach in gorgeous Folkestone watching the sunset.”
Thank you, Jackie, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Jackie Wilks. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.