Nestled in the heart of the High Weald, Oastbrook Estate is a winery and entertainment hub founded by America and Nick Brewer, an entrepreneurial couple who have made it Oastbrook’s mission to put their adopted East Sussex home and its businesses on the map.
Oastbrook Estate kindly invited Locate East Sussex to explore the estate as preparations are being made for its big summer.
When you arrive at Oastbrook, you will understand why Nick and America Brewer, both previously involved in financial services, moved into the Oast house. The focal point of hop production for Guinness in the 1800s, the Oast has long since become a familial home. As America first saw the building, she saw what she described as a ‘princess’s castle’, the perfect place to move to enjoy a more relaxed, easy-going lifestyle,
America, originally from Brazil, saw commonalities between growing up in South America, to raising a family in East Sussex. As the Sussex wine industry had started in earnest to grow and build an international reputation, America was reminded of her own childhood memories of a vine that wrapped itself around her balcony, where she would eat the grapes before any wine could be made.
As the Brewers learnt more about the history of the area and connecting to the local community, they knew there was opportunity to bring people together, surprised how much of East Sussex remained unexplored and undiscovered even by the locals.
As crowds flock to Cornwall and the West Country, Oastbrook aims to prove that the rich, cultural heritage of East Sussex is just as unique and special, but also offers new and exciting experiences compared to a seaside day trip.
Making dreams come true
As America became curious about how to make the best wine, she found that the conditions on Oastbrook were perfect: a similar micro-climate as the Champagne region of France, and the terroir (the ground) gave the grapes a complexity that gives Oastbrook Estate’s wine its unique, award-winning complexity. America knew she needed to learn more.
Soon enrolling into Plumpton Wine Centre, America earned the knowledge and skills to become an expert in viticulture. For those who make the time to book a visit, she would gladly lead through the estate and the secrets of Oastbrook Estate, sharing her joy of managing such as a unique corner of Bodiam alongside her beloved golden receiver Lora.
When you visit Oastbrook, it does not feel like a traditional English farm, but rather something like the Burgundian vineyards that Nick Brewer spent some of his formative years, creating a space that as welcoming as the English countryside with the holiday feeling of Napa Valley.
Oastbrook aims to be the inclusive outspring of collaboration, between local businesses/suppliers, and creating an attractive environment that showcases the best of what the Weald has to offer.
Joining America in her mission, Nick gained qualifications in oenology and set forth launching the business in earnest with the first vintage released in 2018. With plans to create over 40,000 litres of wine per year, both still and sparkling varieties, Oastbrook Estate wants to give its guests a curated experience, aiming to create smaller batch and variety from its selection of chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot blanc grapes.
As Oastbrook produces more wine, they have already built a network of buyers and working with local restaurants and wine shops (such as Battle’s Sarah’s Cellar), as well as launching a subscription membership with access to low volume experimental wine and soon to be announced members-only events.
For Oastbrook, it is not just about creating great wine, but creating new experiences that are reflective and adapts to its audience’s tastes and lifestyles and giving a sense of ownership back to its guests. As drinkers become more discerning, seeking new experiences, so too does the industry. As each vintage at Oastbrook comes with its own story from vine to bottle, if you were to visit Oastbrook Estate, you might have a story of your own as well.
Operas, Food and Hobbit Houses
With Bodiam Castle a stone’s throw away and The Hub @ Quarry Farm just over the Rother River, Oastbrook Estate saw that creating wine was only the beginning of something unique and intriguing for both tourists and locals in East Sussex. The Brewers saw that the winery adds to the unique East Sussex story that is only beginning to be rediscovered.
From offering unique guest accommodation, designed to look like it was Bilbo Baggins’ Hobbit house, to luxurious glamping facilities, the winery does not want to just host tastings and tours but rather lifelong experiences for all its visitors.
Realising the potential that the Estate offers, America and Nick are opening up their vineyard to unique and variety of different experiences, from live opera with fine food, Brazilian Tapas with Pagode Music, a yoga retreat week and an outdoor interpretation of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
While primed for the summer season, Oastbrook is not resting on its laurels to create year-round experiences. Oastbrook Wine Estate contacted Locate East Sussex to assist them in its plan to expand its offer for its visitors and successfully assisting them in accessing East Sussex Invest funding to accelerate its plans.
Using only local suppliers and joiners from within three miles away from the business (except one contractor based in Hastings), Oastbrook Estate puts its best foot forward with aiming to be a sustainable and natural enterprise, making the local journey from grape to serving the most important one.
Oastbrook’s unique vision creating a dedicated tasting room, a revamped specialized laboratory, cellar door facility to store its wine and a refined events space for all-year-round entertainment that would be able to host up to 100 (subject to social distancing restrictions).
As they look to grow, they have started to develop plans for another Hobbit House on the vineyard as the original is consistently booked by eager guests and other onsite accommodation to complement its outdoor glamping and tipis.