The Grange – Interview With Zam Baring

20th June 2024

The Grange Interview With Zam Baring

There is no denying that English Sparkling Wine is on the rise, becoming an undeniable contender to Traditional Method Sparkling Wines around the world. To the English, it’s becoming a fan favourite and a go-to Glass of Bubbly, its quality is improving year on year and thanks to innovators and those willing to follow their dreams, the choice of English Sparkling Wine is expanding.

In this exclusive feature on Glass of Bubbly, we speak with Zam Baring, the Managing Partner at The Grange in Hampshire, England, let’s discover a little about his life, his journey into the industry and one of his favoiurote bubbly memories.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Zam, Can You Tell Us A Little About Yourself & Your Incredible Journey Into The Wine Industry?

“I’m one of four siblings who, in 2011, decided to come together to start a wine business together on land the family have lived on for generations. We were all in our 50’s and had worked at various careers elsewhere – I trained as a film editor in my 20’s but ended up running an independent television production company, my younger sister runs a travel publishing company with her husband, my brother worked in finance and my elder sister started an interiors company in the 80’s which now has shops around the world – but we all felt it would be good to work together to create something beautiful from the place we all grew up in. We are trying to make a wine that perfectly expresses the love and awe we feel for the stunning chalk downland that was the background to our lives, from childhood to whatever this, being in your 60’s, is called – late middle age??”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?

“I remember dipping an illicit finger in Champagne glasses at weddings as a child, but my abiding first memory of sparkling was when I was 18 or 19 tasting some extremely old Champagne – I think it was from the 30’s but may have been the 50’s – from the back of someone’s cellar. There was barely a bubble but the richness, power and what I now know is tertiary flavour complexity, blew me away. It was unlike anything I had known wine could be.”

How Rewarding And Challenging Is Running Your Own English Winery?

“There are countless rewards to running an English wine business as well as countless challenges. The top two rewards are, first, the moment you first recognise the flavour of your own grapes in a base wine at a blending session – a really gobsmacking “This delicious flavour tastes how it does because it comes from OUR vineyard…” moment! Closely followed by the moment someone tastes your wine and their face says it all. “Crikey, that is REALLY good! I didn’t know English sparkling could taste that good…” is a paraphrase of what comes afterwards!

The two top challenges are, first, the incredible variability of yield from the vineyard – we have been as high as 140-odd tonnes and as low as 33 tonnes – which is just par for the course with our English weather but, when your raw material supply ebbs and flows like that, it requires complex solutions from a business perspective. The second biggest challenge is connected to my second reward – it’s about overturning the low opinion of English wine the domestic market has and convincing people that the excellent quality is worth paying for.”

What Future Plans Can Enthusiasts Of The Grange Look Forward To In The Coming Years?

“Harry, our Chief Winemaker, has produced a second year of the STILL PINK, made entirely from our own Hampshire grown Pinot Noir from 2023. It is a fragrant, pale pink, fruit-laden charmer that has heft and length. It will only be available at a couple of local stores and via the website. Over the longer term, he will be experimenting with still whites and still reds to see how far a simpler expression of the vineyard’s fruit can be taken. And, even longer term, both last year and this he blended what we call WHITE FROM WHITE – a Chardonnay only sparkler that we think will need at least five, and probably seven years on lees and then a good couple of years on cork before release.”

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

“I think my best moment to date has been when I popped the cork on our first ever mature and ready to drink bottle of the CLASSIC. We four siblings, along with our 90-yr old father, each had a glass in hand and were about to have the first taste of a product we had spent the last 7 years investing in. We sniffed and we sipped and, slowly, the expressions of anxiety and nerves disappeared, replaced by smiles of relief and excitement – the broad grin on my Dad’s face was particularly lovely, because I had been worried he was going to die before he’d tasted the wine – but I needn’t have worried, he got to taste 3 more years after that!”

Thank you Zam, 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 Zam Baring. 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.