Believe it or not the English countryside is dotted with hundreds of vineyards; some of them very well-known like Breaky Bottom, Chiddingstone, Lamberhurst and Hidden Spring, to name but a few.|
For many decades consumers never really equated Britain's climate with one suitable for growing grapes. After all, our weather can be appallingly unpredictable and pictures of vineyards are usually taken in some hot and sunny place where the earth looks parched. However, many English winemakers [and not forgetting those in Wales too], have been soldiering on and today there is a quite credible native winemaking industry. Find out how English wine compares with the imports.
With increased production the price of a bottle of English wine has fallen to one more commensurate with mid-priced continental imports. Somehow one feels that English winemakers are beginning to get their act together, albeit on a small scale when compared to the Americans, Australians and other new wine producing nations. Our climate is perhaps also changing to one more suitable to growing grapes.
In the past the Romans used to produce wine in Britain, and also during the Norman period. From the 14th century native production declined and wine was imported instead. But now there's a new generation of inspired English winemakers, although the number of producing UK vineyards - and the yield too - has gone down since the early 1990s. In 2001 the UK's 350 active vineyards output 1,581,700 litres of wine - or nearly 350,000 gallons [source: UKVA/EWP].
The main UK wine production areas are in the south on the country [dark yellow on the map below] while there are a smattering of producers outside this area [paler yellow areas], with even the odd one in the north of England such as Leventhorpe near Leeds.
WINEGROWING REGIONS OF ENGLAND & WALES
Down St. Mary
The list of English vineyards above is by no means comprehensive but will give
you a good idea of the spread of UK producers. You should also note that
'English wine' means that it is grown and bottled here while something which
calls itself 'British wine' is basically an imported wine bottled in the UK.
UK winegrowers are represented by the UKVA [UK Vineyards Association]
with marketing of the wines undertaken by English Wine Producers who have
their own website at www.englishwineproducers.com.