Boom Times for English Wines
Land of hope, glory and wines. If the English wine industry keeps sending signals as positive as the most recent ones, this description may as well one day be used for England.
The latest news from the wine industry speak of a booming production along with mounting interest across the Channel for national wines – a product which, even just a decade ago, most Frenchmen would simply refrain from tasting.
The Gallic interest in the insular production is now most famously embodied by Didier Pierson-Whitaker, who brought French rootstocks to a Hampshire vineyard, where Meonhill sparkling wine is now produced.
Elsewhere in the South, it’s the Ridgeview vineyard in the South Downs that has caught the attention over the last few weeks, with a now impressive production of around 240,000 bottles a year, a tenfold increase on the initial output.
Founded in 1994, it took Ridgeview only 2 years to win its first international trophy. Ever since, the company has kept growing, both in quality and quantity.
Ridgeview’s roots also link England to France, where 13 clones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier were selected to be grown locally. These grapes are of an excellent quality thanks to their rich flavour and low alcohol content and super-acidity, essential to a decent bottle of sparkling wine.
Among the other rising stars of the English wine industry are also Camel Valley in Cornwall, Nyetimber in West Sussex, and, the biggest wine producer on this side of the Channel, Chapel Down in Kent.
Helped by the recent heatwaves of English summers, this industry has an expanding potential for growth: it is estimated that by 2015 around 4 million bottles will be produced in the over 400 active English vineyards, up from 250,000 just over ten years ago.
With a history dating to the Roman times, it’s safe to say that the long under-estimated English production now has finally gained all the confidence and quality it takes to conquer sophisticate consumers overseas.