Oastbrook EstatePortrait of a winemaker

Discover the history of Oastbrook Estate, its wines, passions & savoir-faire. Anna Caidan is in conversation with America Brewer owner and winemaker.
2020-08-03
Wine Story

Who are you America Brewer? How and why did you get into wine?

I am winemaker and owner of Oastbrook Estate, and I’m originally from the Bahia region of Brazil. After 14 years working in a Bank, I left Brazil and now find myself very happily settled in the English countryside with my husband, Nick, and daughter, Gabriella. When we first moved to Sussex, and remembering my childhood, I planted some vines that climbed up the walls of the Oast. Due to the south facing aspect and the temperate climate I got a bountiful crop, even by my second year. And so, I decided to make some wine from the grapes. From there, I started to visit local vineyards and it was the people I met who encouraged me to study wine production at Plumpton College.

I started to look at the terroir in our Sussex valley and its history whilst studying. There is a sandstone ridge running alongside the banks of the Rother with a mix of clay and silt from the river. These had once spread more widely across the valley and used to be moved around by the sea. Iron was melted here in Roman times – we know this from the ironstone that lies about on the surface of our fields. This has been responsible for creating the natural spring that fills our pond. The farm is surrounded by many natural brooks – Gypsy brook, Channel brook and the most poetic to me, Oastbrook. The latter lends its name for the original name of the farm. I decided that should be the name of my wine.

Do you have a winemaking secret?

The grape processing and winemaking are operations that start in the vineyard. The secret of a great wine is healthy vines free of diseases.

What is your favorite step in the winemaking process?

Alcohol fermentation is my favorite step, from the selection and addition of the yeast strain, inoculation, and the first visual sign of fermentation. I do love to spend time in the lab doing analysis.

What is your best memory since working at Oastbrook Estate?

This is the launch of my first wine (2014 Sparkling Rosé) on September 27th, 2018. The party was booked for 4pm but by 3pm the road was still not ready. I went to the Hobbit house where the reception was to take place to finish the decorations and prepare the wine. But the builders were still there, and the catering company arrived at the same time. I got the builders out, the caterers in, then welcomed the Samba dancers to their changing place. Meanwhile my phone did not stop with some guests trying to arrive early. With five minutes to go I had time for a quick shower and asked some friends to host the guests arriving… By the end of my speech I saw my favourite teacher coming in the main door (Tony Milanowski from Plumpton College). I invited him to do the final speech on the importance of glass in the sensory evaluation of wine tasting. All in all, it was a simply wonderful and memorable event – for all the right reasons!

…and your most challenging moment?

Trying to water the vines when they had just been planted during a summer drought.

How would you describe your wines in three words?

Bottled Summer Fruits

How is Oastbrook Estate wines different?

It is a combination of terroir and winemaking. The aspect, microclimate, viticulture practices and winemaking process differ even if you have the same grape variety, with the same clone, root stock and the same yeast selection. The wine at the end will always have its own identity. Because what makes a wine different is all of this together, combined with the winemaker’s ability to transform a fruit into a wine. It is the same for anything – even when you get a cooking book and follow a recipe, the dish will not be the same every time. The result is your own creation, even with the same great ingredients and the same recipe. So, my heart and my land’s soil have gone into my wines and that is the difference.

Your favourite Oastbrook food-wines pairings?

Oastbrook wines are very food friendly:

2014 Sparkling Rosé (38 months lees) - with melted Brie on sourdough; duck and redcurrant salad; or salmon baked with butter and herbs

2018 Pinot Gris - with pan fried seabass with butter and vinaigrette, with cherry tomatoes, red, yellow, and green pepper, cucumber and onion salad; or Italian macaroni pasta with cheese

2015 Sparkling Rosé (40 months on lees) - with smoked salmon, dill, lemon and crème fraiche on brown bread or Rye toast; or mackerel paté with beetroot; I do love it with Indian food as well!

When do you think is the best time to enjoy a glass of Oastbrook wines?

This depends – I can only say what time I enjoy the most: summertime, party time, fun time, romantic time, eating time, Christmas time, New Year time… So anytime!

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