Farmer’s award-winning vineyard goes on market

Feature on Brook Farm in Brent Eleigh, with farmer Nick Thomson.  Pictured by the vineyards. ENGANL00120130611120615
Feature on Brook Farm in Brent Eleigh, with farmer Nick Thomson. Pictured by the vineyards. ENGANL00120130611120615
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Award-winning Brook Farm – renowned for wines and red poll cattle – is up for sale.

Owner Nick Thomson has run the business for 14 years but says now is the time to move on to pastures new.

“It will be a real wrench,” he said. “But I promised my wife it would never become a mill stone, and there are many other things that I want to do.

“I am going to have to sell it at some time, so it might as well be now.”

Mr Thomson bought Brook Farm in Cock Lane, Brent Eleigh, in 2000 after a career as an underwriter at Lloyds.

He bought Red Poll cattle first, building up a herd of 75 cows, and then developed the vineyard on the sloping farmland, producing 8,000 bottles of wine a year. He also sells farm-produced apple juice.

Building his businesses up from scratch, he has won many awards.

In July, his Brook Farm Pinot Noir Symphony Rosé was judged outstanding at the Wine of the Year competition 2014 and won him a national trophy from the UK Vineyards Association.

The 129-acre farm is being sold with its vineyards, orchards and its farm shop as a whole – or offered as four different lots – by property firm Brown & Co.

Mr Thomson said his children, Stuart, 37, an IT professional working in Switzerland, and his daughter, Bryony, 29, an artist and children’s illustrator, were not following in his footsteps.

He and his wife, Rosemary, were still planning to stay in Suffolk at their home in Lavenham but, once the farm was sold, would be taking time to travel when they wanted to.

He said a variety of reasons “have conspired” to require him to sell the farm.

“Having made all sorts of changes to the farm, I have ended up becoming a second-rate administrator and I don’t get to spend any time in the vineyard or where I’d like to be,” said Mr Thomson.

“You spend a lot of time running round in circles, which I don’t particularly enjoy.

“We want to travel when we want to, and we have some forestry properties in Aberdeenshire which we’d like to visit more frequently.

“I’d also like to write a book about Suffolk churches, a sort of layman’s guide linking them to a nice walk.

“I’m sorry to be leaving; it’s a lovely place with beautiful views.”

He said he hoped the new owner would continue developing the farm, perhaps opening a cafe.