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English wine is booming – and this Herefordshire vineyard is ideal for a vintage break

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It’s grape Britain! English wine is booming – and this Herefordshire vineyard is ideal for a vintage break

  • David Atkinson takes a tour around Wythall Estate Vineyard within the Wye Valley
  • He stops at Coddington Vineyard, where wines have a ‘fruity, floral flavour’
  • English Wine Week, starting on June 18, will rejoice 195 British wineries 

Who would have thought our home-grown vino could go from quirky curiosity to booming industry? But the beginning of English Wine Week on June 18 will rejoice the 195 wineries that produce 9 million bottles of English wine per yr.

Wine tourism here increased by 57 per cent in 2020, in accordance with Wines of Great Britain, reflecting a surge in domestic visits to wineries and sales direct from the cellar door.

Nobody is kind of suggesting that wine in places similar to the Wye Valley within the Welsh Marches will ever compete with those of the Route des Grands Crus in Burgundy. But Jamie McIntyre, owner of the Wythall Estate Vineyard in rural Herefordshire, is poised, corkscrew in hand, to emphasize how the Wye Valley is ‘the right showcase for English wines’.

David Atkinson takes a tour around Wythall Estate Vineyard in rural Herefordshire, set within the grounds of a Sixteenth-century family estate

Wythall’s award-winning Pinot Noir

Wythall’s award-winning Pinot Noir

The vineyard, set within the grounds of the Sixteenth-century family estate, is just two miles outside the historic market town of Ross-on-Wye. It grows 4 varieties, based on German stock, across its 4 acres, producing around 4,000 bottles per yr. The Fruhburgunder grape produces Wythall’s Pinot Noir (£30 a bottle), which won Gold on the Independent English Wine Awards 2022.

Wild rabbits scamper through the vines and fallow deer emerge gingerly into the daylight within the fields beyond as Jamie takes me on a tour.

‘The snobbery around English wine has gone. It’s now not a blind spot for wine drinkers,’ he says as, afterwards, we taste the wines within the wood-panelled dining room, the glasses embossed with the family crest that dates from the 1500s. Jamie’s wines are served alongside pints of Butty Bach at The Hostelrie gastropub within the nearby village of Goodrich.

I match a dinner of monkfish and chorizo, followed by a plum compote with cold custard, with a glass of Jamie’s Sparkling Rose within the garden on an excellent early summer evening.

The subsequent day, I jump over to the Coddington Vineyard which, together with Wythall and Frome Valley Vineyards, features in a series of recent, self-guided wine walks of Herefordshire. I follow an undulating five-mile route from the Church of St James the Great in Colwall, then cross the Coddington Vineyard for lunch before climbing Oyster Hill, the Malvern Hills and the town of Ledbury on the horizon.

Wythall Estate Vineyard is just two miles outside the historic market town of Ross-on-Wye (pictured)

Wythall Estate Vineyard is just two miles outside the historic market town of Ross-on-Wye (pictured)

David climbs the Malvern Hills (pictured) on a self-guided walking tour of Herefordshire. The route takes him to the 'mature' winery of Coddington Vineyard

David climbs the Malvern Hills (pictured) on a self-guided walking tour of Herefordshire. The route takes him to the ‘mature’ winery of Coddington Vineyard

Coddington is considered one of the more mature wineries within the region, with three varieties, including two still whites and a sparkling Pinot Gris.

‘You simply get good wine from good grapes,’ explains owner Peter Maiden, showing off his neatly pruned rows of Ortega, grapes derived from German Riesling stock.

‘There’s loads of coordination between sugars and acid.’

The vines began to bud in May and might be in full flower for English Wine Week, with harvest time bringing a frenzy of activity to the tranquil rural site come October.

‘It’s a labour of affection but very satisfying,’ says co-owner Sharon Maiden. ‘Given longer summers and milder winters, our wines increasingly profit from a fruity, floral flavour that makes them uniquely English.’

It’s hard to disagree. And the way higher to rejoice the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend than by raising a glass of new-generation English wine.

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