Josh Donnaghay-Spire Wine Maker at Chapel Down

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osh Donaghay Spire chapel down english wine

Working in wine production in England at the moment is a hugely exciting place to be. Viticultural regions are only born once and it doesn’t happen very often so to find oneself in the right place at the right time feels very lucky indeed. My career with Chapel Down started as Assistant Winemaker at the beginning of 2010 and I was fortunately promoted to Winemaker at the end of 2013. Since I started with Chapel Down the changes we’ve implemented have been gradual but important. We introduced the use of malolactic fermentation in order to better manage the naturally high acidity found in English grapes. This has meant that we have been able to lower dosage levels to between 6g/l and 9g/l which allows the fruit flavours to be more naturally expressive. We have also introduced the judicious and limited use of barrels in some of our top sparkling wines as well as in some of our single vineyard still wines. This brings complexity and important texture to the mid-palate of our wines. Technical corks have been introduced across our wines which means that none of our wines can be corked and consistency is higher. The effect of light has also been an area of research which is why we have introduced the use of very dark glass in our sparkling wine. We have also introduced the use of jetting technology on our sparkling wines which has reduced total pack oxygen at the point of disgorging and will increase freshness and consistency.

All of these changes are important to ensure that our wines are the best that they can be and that they showcase the true potential of our vineyards. With every year that passes we learn more about the terroir we grow on and these lessons are applied to the new vineyard plantings. Similarly in the winery it is key that we keep pushing the quality onwards and upwards and this is my ultimate focus.

Prior to working for Chapel Down I studied Viticulture and Oenology at Plumpton College on the South coast of England. I gained experience working in vineyards and wineries in South Africa, England, Champagne and Alsace. All of this was with the target of returning to the county of my birth to be a part of the English Wine revolution which is happening right now.

 For more on Josh and Chapel Down click here. 


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