Off The Line
Dedicated to producing the finest English rosé wines, English wine makers Annmarie Tynan and Kristina Studzinski are unique in the English wine industry. Their focus is on continually pushing boundaries to ensure that they produce the finest English Rosé wines. A feat in itself in such a niche market. With the arrival of their new wines to our store, we thought it was about time we caught up with them to discover what has been their inspiration to produce English Rosé wines.
Hi Annmarie and Kristina, welcome to The English Wine Collection’s vineyard focus, could you start by providing some background on Off The Line vineyard, what lead you to producing English Rosé wines?
Hello! Our story is similar to many in this industry in that it began with a passion for wine, the countryside and a love of regions that create the world’s best wines. When circumstances seemed right, Kristina left the government legal service in 2011 where she had been working as a lawyer to study wine production full-time at Plumpton. Ann-Marie was at this time working in fine wine investment. It was when Kristina was studying at Plumpton that we realised the potential in England and got excited by the English wine revolution that we could see happening. We also realised we wanted to try and establish our own vineyard from scratch giving us a blank canvas.
Where did the name ‘Off The Line Vineyard’ come from?
Our vineyard is located next to what used to be an old steam railway line known as the Cuckoo Line because every spring Cuckoos return to nest here. It is now a route for walkers and cyclists known as the Cuckoo Trail. We wanted a name that was modern and contemporary to reflect us and our approach as well as referencing our location.
You both have worked in vineyards throughout Europe, what was this like?
Shadowing other wine makers and vineyard owners has been invaluable. Learning about viticulture and wine making takes time and there are many things that can’t be taught in a classroom. Although we loved working in Bordeaux and the southern Rhone we realised that we had beautiful countryside and possibilities to become wine makers in our own country. With a network of professional connections here too that would help us be successful. The weather in Europe can be challenging (hail, extreme heat etc) and there are fewer rules and regulations in England. Every vineyard that we've worked on has been inspiring in different ways, usually because of the amazing people working in wine, their work ethos, vision and determination to keep going and make outstanding wines
Talk us through your vineyard location, what’s special about it, why have you chosen this site?
Our vineyard is located on the lower slopes of the Weald in East Sussex in one of the sunniest parts of England. In a marginal climate, it really helps to have south facing slopes which we have so our grapes ripen well and acidity drops. Altitude is good at around 50 m above sea level. When we discovered the site it seemed to have all the right attributes for development as a vineyard and winery including tracks and farm buildings suitable for storing machinery.
You have chosen to only produce Rosé wines, what has been the inspiration behind this and what do you feel you have achieved in each wine?
The rosé market is interesting to us as it is unpretentious. Also our approach which is about pushing boundaries and doing something different which we are doing in England. In cool climate regions, good rosé wines can be made with refreshing acidity and subtle fruit flavours. Rosé being produced in Provence is coming now with high alcohol levels due to warmer weather which means quality suffers. Our rosé wines are doing well against international competition which demonstrates that we can make good rosé here.
Have you thought about producing a sparkling rosé?
Yes, we are working on ideas for a sparkling rosé. We are not traditionalists so looking at making a sparkling wine from Dornfelder or possibly a blend using the Charmat method. Watch this space!
You have a slogan on your site that says' TAKING ENGLISH WINE OUT THERE' - what does this mean to you?
We believe that wine should be enjoyed by everyone particularly English wine which we are striving to take to new and wider groups of consumers so that’s the thinking behind ‘Taking English wine out there’. Things are changing but English wines are not really ‘out there’ as of yet. Many people are not aware of the great wines that we make in this country.
Can you talk us through each of your wines. what’s unique about them?
Hip rosé is our super pale watery pink, Provencal style rosé. It’s made from Pinot noir and has been described as a wine to take your time over. One of the clones we grow is German and imparts savoury characteristics to the wine and delightful stone fruit flavours.
Dancing Dog rosé is a darker, bolder style of rosé made from Regent, Pinot noir and Rondo. It’s expressive of the Regent grape which dominates the blend and yields dark fruit and a minty tone. A wine to drink on its own or at a barbeque or party.
If we came to visit you at the vineyard what can we expect to see/do etc?
We have a beautiful site rich in biodiversity with natural woodland and ponds and views of the surrounding countryside and the South Downs. Our purpose-built cedar clad winery is modern and driven by sustainability. We are launching a self-guided tour this year so people can explore the estate at their leisure or you can book a guided tour followed by a tasting of all of our rosé wines. If you visit us we would hope that our passion for what we do rubs off on you and you leave feeling inspired.
You have chosen to focus on growing Pinot noir, Regent, Dornfelder and Rondo, which are all red varieties. What’s special about each of these grapes and why did you choose them?
Pinot noir is a variety that brings style and complexity to all wines. It is extremely versatile so gives options for still wine and fizz.
Regent is a strong variety that never gets diseases and provides vivid colour and dark fruit peppery notes.
Rondo is wild and difficult to control in the vineyard but it’s a reliable heavy cropper and works well in a blend as it ripens well with naturally low acidity.
Dornfelder produces enormous bunches and adds great colour to wine with subtle floral tones.
Anything else you think we should know?
The English wine industry is evolving rapidly at the moment with land under vine growing year on year. We see huge potential for the recognition of new wine regions in England with protected status. In our area in the Sussex Weald we have many great producers and there is a strong regional identity and terroir which informs the wines. The best way to achieve this regionality is for producers to come together and for it to evolve naturally. That’s what makes wine making special as it’s a collective, local endeavour rather than a vanity project moving forward without local reference.