Vines were first planted at Gusbourne Estate in 2004 and they’ve had their sights set on perfection ever since, pursuing a clear vision and a single goal: to create English Sparkling Wines that would stand up alongside the very finest offerings from across the globe.
A collaboration between our like-minded brands makes sense, but what's the secret to long-term relationships? When Bremont Co-Founder Giles English spent some time with Gusbourne’s Chief Winemaker Charlie Holland, they wound up with these conclusions.
CH Giles, Bremont has collaborated with a whole range of organisations and stand-out individuals –British military units, sporting achievers and of course the legendary Ronnie Wood. What have you learned from that?
GE Yes, we've supported a lot of people who embrace the spirit of adventure. And we've done so since we began in 2002. With a limited marketing budget back then, collaborating with other people was a way to gain an audience and raise awareness of our brand. But we only did so with people who inspired us. You have to admire the brands you work with. Gusbourne is a case in point. I really enjoy drinking it, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else if I didn't.
CH We're always looking for kindred spirits who share the same mindset and values. And yes, it's about being inspired by what others are doing. You look at the thought and the detail and the craftsmanship that a company like Bremont puts into its products, and you take that back to your own business. What does that say to us? How can we apply that to our own processes?
GE Absolutely. Unexpected learnings are one of the great by-products of partnerships.
CH So what begins as a meeting of minds can lead to technical synergies too, if you can see beyond the obvious differences in types of products. A highly engineered watch, for example, and a top-of-the-range sparkling wine are crafted in different ways, but we can each learn how like-minded partners improve and innovate within their own discipline.
GE A great example of that is our long-term cooperation with Boeing at Sheffield University, where we've developed new metals together that they use in aerospace and we use in watches. As you know, a good product can't be rushed. Same for making wine.
CH Time and authenticity. From our first planting in 2004 – two years after Bremont began – it took 10 years before we knew our first vintage was ready. That's about authenticity. We all need stories to tell because stories, especially those that are authentic, engage our customers. People, rightly, see through flimsy, superficial marketing. I think what marks both Bremont and Gusbourne out is the huge amount of work we put into refining – and refining again – the engineered end product. So our stories are built on substance. Which brings us to Britishness. How important is it for Bremont to be seen as a British product?
GE Emphasising our Britishness was a choice that came easily. We had history on our side. When you decide to build a new watch brand and you're based near London, it's good to remember that the centre of European watchmaking in the 18th century was Clerkenwell and that 60% of the new technical inventions of the age originated in Britain. Of course, that got forgotten when around 750 French and Swiss firms stole the scene for a while. But that story about British creativity – and it’s authentic – gives us a great base to build from again.
CH Well, at Gusbourne we stand on the Britishness of our brand every working day, even if we do call it terroir. Every grape we press is grown on our land in Kent and West Sussex.
GE And 100% of our production is done in the UK. It's right to emphasise our Britishness. Both Bremont and Gusbourne are to some extent challenger brands. For luxury watches, Switzerland is probably the first association people make. And sparkling wine translates first to Champagne. But those are assumptions we're able to disrupt because of the strength of our stories. For Bremont, we're excited to be launching a new facility in Henley with both machining and assembly under one roof, and that'll be open to visitors soon as the real home of the brand.
CH That's exactly what we found with The Nest, our tasting room in Kent. It instantly became the soul of Gusbourne, somewhere people could come and meet and talk to us, see the story is genuine and build their own connection.