Interview With The Winemaker At Burn Valley Vineyard – Mathew Abbey

30th April 2024

Interview With The Winemaker At Burn Valley Vineyard Mathew Abbey

Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.

In this feature we speak with Mathew Abbey, the talented Winemaker at Burn Valley Vineyard in Norfolk, England, let’s discover a little about his time as a Winemaker in the Wine Industry.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Mathew, Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself & How You Became Involved In The Wine Industry?

“Thank you for having me Oliver, I have been in the wine industry now for 20+ years and started my journey actually in the hospitality industry working behind bars and eventually became a bar manager and doing wine lists for restaurants which led me to work for Adnams in one of their wine shops in North Norfolk and I was with Adnams for four years before heading off to New Zealand and working vintage at Forrest Estate in Marlborough. After seven months in Marlborough, I headed down to Central Otago and Queenstown where I lived and worked for ten years in varied roles from assistant winemaker to cellar door host and even co-owned a wine tour business for three years. I also worked a vintage in Hawkes Bay on the North Island of NZ in 2020 and have been winemaker at Burn Valley Vineyard in Norfolk since 2019.”

What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?

“I would have to say my favourite parts would be when the first fruit comes in and then the hard work and long days begin but the fermentation process is probably my most favourite as the yeast goes to work and the wine starts to evolve and sampling the ferments each day and the changes that happen, I have started to use the wild yeast from the vineyard compared to adding cultured yeast to start the ferment and I have certainly noticed a difference in the wines.”

As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing English Wine?

“I would definitely say the weather as we are seeing a huge variance each year with 2018, 20, 22 being hotter drier years and then 19, 21, 23 being cooler vintages but more rainfall, those cooler vintages have benefited from great autumn seasons to save the vintage. Planting the correct varieties is also key with our climate and certainly in East Anglia still wines work better compared to sparkling varieties in the south. Disease can also be an issue. I have spoken more on this from the vineyard side but it all starts in the vineyard and from the winemaking side is making sure the best fruit comes in year on year.”

When It Comes To Pairing Sparkling Wine With Food, Do You Have Any Favourite Combinations That You Would Personally Recommend?

“Sparkling wine has to go with oysters for me but any great shellfish works from mussels to lobster, we are lucky at Burn Valley to have a great chef in Steven Newsome who does our secret supper dinners and we always pair our sparklings with his amazing canapes.”

Can You Share With Us One Of The Most Memorable Experiences You’ve Enjoyed With A Glass of Bubbly?

“I would say my first experience with a glass of bubbly was with family friends in France just south of Paris and it was also with my first ever oysters, another experience would be when I bought my first house in New Zealand and celebrated with a few glasses of Quartz Reef Methode traditionelle from Central Otago. A Champagne breakfast with Billecart Salmon lives long in the memory with my friend from Australia who inspired me to pursue my career in winemaking. It’s hard to pick one when I have quite a few and I always believe a few glasses of sparkling wine is great for occasions like those.”

Thank you Mathew, for sharing your story and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Mathew Abbey. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.