UK supermarket The Co-operative Group is to produce its own English wine from vines planted on one of the company’s farms in Gloucestershire.
The six-acre vineyard in Down Ampney, near Cirencester, will produce a white wine, mainly from the Ortega grape variety, from about 2014.
The wine will be sold as part of the Co-op’s Grown by Us range – food and drink products either grown by The Co-operative Farms, or made using their produce.
‘It’s a bit of an experiment, but it’s one we are really looking forward to,’ said Christine Tacon, managing director of The Co-operative Farms.
‘The conditions at Down Ampney make it a good location to plant a vineyard, and it should make a great addition to our Grown by Us range.’
The retailer, famed for its ethical trading practices, will plant a mixture of wild flowers alongside the vines, to encourage wildlife, including bees.
The Co-op is the latest in a line of high-profile companies and individuals to invest in English vineyards, including rival supermarket Waitrose, which is to produce a sparkling wine from vines grown on its Hampshire farm from 2014.
Decanter consultant editor Steven Spurrier and his wife Bella have planted a vineyard in Dorset’s Bride Valley, while AXA Millésimes boss Christian Seely has invested in a sparkling wine project in Hampshire.
Richard Balfour-Lynn, the tycoon who owns the Liberty department store and the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin hotel chains, produces a highly-regarded sparkling wine, Balfour Brut rosé, at Hush Heath Estate in Kent.
There are now more than 400 vineyards in the UK, with the total area under vine growing by 45% between 2004 and 2009 to more than 1,100 hectares.
Written by Richard Woodard