Martin's Lane Vineyard interview  by The English Wine Collection

Martin's Lane Vineyard interview by The English Wine Collection

Martin’s Lane

Vineyard interview

Welcome to the English wine Collection’s Vineyard focus! Could you tell me about the team at Martin’s Lane and what do they do?

Martin’s Lane is a Limited Liability Partnership formed in 2008.  It was the brainchild of Roy Martin who, until June 2023, ran the operation in conjunction with our Vineyard Management team from MVM Ltd.  MVM is essentially Duncan McNeill whose task it is to bring in the workforce needed and various specialists throughout the year to manage the vineyard.  In June 2023 Roy died suddenly and the day to day operation and forward strategy was taken over by me, Graham Martin - a founding partner of the LLP and Roy’s cousin - together with my wife Caroline.  The period since June 2023 has been focused on understanding the business in more detail and carrying out the overall direction that Roy had mapped out and overseeing the harvest in the autumn of 2023.  

Martins Lane vineyard English wine 

How did you get into the wine business and what led you to English wine?

Roy, who had lived in the village of Stow Maries for the last 40 years, knew both the area and the local farmers very well and when the site became available for sale, he canvassed a small group of friends and family to gauge interest in purchasing the land to grow grapes.  Neither Roy nor any of the other partners were experts in the wine industry.  At that time there was only one other vineyard in the area – New Hall in Purleigh – which had been there since 1969.  

Why did you decide to form a partnership, what benefits have you experienced from doing so?

At the time, a partnership seemed to be the easiest and most equitable way to begin.  We thought that this was a lower risk strategy in that if they didn’t wish to continue they could leave the partnership fairly easily.

How big is the vineyard at Martin’s Lane and how many different grape varieties do you grow? 

The vineyard is 30 acres with 22 acres of vines planted.  We grow the classics – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier – as well as some Bacchus.  In addition we grow some Pinot Noir Precoce, an early ripening grape.

What is unique about you English vineyard location?

We are in the Crouch Valley which is regarded as the best place in the UK to grow grapes for still wines.  The Crouch river offers a high degree of frost protection at key times, which together with the London clay, the relatively low rainfall and longer hanging time provides an advantage over many other areas.  We are in the driest, sunniest part of the country and the vineyard is on natural slopes rising to 50/55 metres south and south west facing.

Why has Martin’s Lane focused on producing Still wines?

Our initial focus was to have been on sparkling wine and we had planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in the ratios needed to make a traditional Champagne style wine.  With our first harvest in 2012 we had struck a deal with Litmus wines (specialist arm of Denbies) to take all of our crop for their own use.  In the following year 2013 they advised that, when tested, the Pinot Noir had achieved such high sugar levels that they intended to make a still white Pinot from those grapes.  The 2013 Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs was divided equally between Litmus Wines for their White Pinot and us for our first own label wine.  Thereafter our plantings were all geared towards still wine vines since we were able to achieve consistently high Oe levels and we have been extending our range of wines since then, with a Pinot Grigio and a Sparkling Chardonnay produced in 2014, a still Chardonnay and our first red Pinot Noir Precoce in 2016 and Pinot Gris in 2016 as well.  Our late ripening Pinot Noir was produced in 2020.

Martins Lane English wine

What are the ‘perfect pairings for each of Martin’s Lane English wines, where’s a good place to start’?  

We produce a range of seven wines – Sparkling Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs, Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir Precoce. 
A good place to start would be the still Chardonnay or Pinot Gris and for the red we would suggest the Pinot Noir, the late ripening red which is a classic Pinot Noir colour and flavour.

If there were no English Wine available and you had to choose, what would be your favourite wines and why?

Some of our favourite wines would be a Premier Cru Chablis for a white and a Gevrey-Chambertin for a red.  Additionally we like good Primitivo, Pinot Noir, Burgundian reds and whites, Albarino – there’s just too many to mention!

Martins Lane Vineyard - The english wine Collection

Can we come down to visit Martin’s Lane vineyard? If so what can we expect from a tour/tasting? What facilities do you have on site?

Martin’s Lane is very much a working vineyard in that we don’t have facilities on site, other than our ‘festival toilet’!  However, we do tours and tastings during the spring and summer which are pre-booked and carried out by us (Graham and Caroline) via our company Crouch Valley Wine Tours.  We take visitors on a walking tour of the vineyard, tasting our sparkling wine along the way, followed by a stop at the summit of the vineyard and tasting the rest of our range under the shelter of our large gazebo overlooking the surrounding vineyards and countryside with outstanding views of the River Crouch.  We also offer cheese and charcuterie boards to share, a buffet lunch, or a lunch in the pub just along the road in Stow Maries village, depending on the tour package chosen (

What challenges do you face at Martin’s Lane and what plans do you have to overcome them?

Our biggest challenge is that we are now fully planted so have a finite production.  Our grapes are sought after nationally and we think quite heavily to attain really high quality fruit.  With the cost of labour and vineyard management our challenge is to be able to sell our grapes to our clients at the premium price to make the business profitably.  Our vineyard manager has streamlined the harvest process to try and make it more efficient and cost effective.  Other challenges are of course the English weather and the Government duty, excise, complexities etc which make running any wine business a challenge.

Martins Lane English wine The English wine Collection


Looking to the future where does artin’s Lane see it’s self in the English Wine industry?

A premier supplier of fruit for the best winemakers in the country.  (We sell on average 80% of our grapes each year to other wineries and winemakers, 20% going to our own wine production) 
To continue with our own brand being recognized as a producer of high quality small batch wines in very good or exceptional years.   To maintain our status as a producer of single estate unchaptalised classic wines.

Anything else that you think we should know?

Our wines have been sold at Fortnum and Mason for the last 4 years and major restaurants in Essex/Suffolk and in Mayfair, London.  Our grapes are used by a number of wine producers including Lyme Bay winery where they have recently produced a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir exclusively with our grapes with our name on the front of their bottles.  Lyme Bay have won a number of awards for wines using our grapes.

You can find out more and buy the wines here.


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