The new Guide to the wines of England & Wales by Philip Williamson, David Moore and Neville Blech highlights the fast-growing interest in UK vineyards as tourist destinations.
Compiled by the award-wining publishers of the Wine Behind the Label series, the illustrated manual covers more than 100 producers from Cornwall to Yorkshire, and from Anglesey to the Vale of Glamorgan. It also includes ‘offshore’ vineyards in Jersey and the Scilly Isles.
‘There’s a real buzz around winemaking in England and Wales,’ said co-author Neville Blech.
‘I was very sceptical before this project, but not anymore. Prestigious winemakers, retailers and restaurateurs take the wine seriously and more resources are being put into the industry. Consumers are paying more attention.’
The guide contains no advertising, and is aimed as much at tourists as wine professionals.
The writers are impressed with the tremendous increase in quality of English and Welsh wines – particularly sparkling wine – but also some of the still dry and sweet wines.
‘The wine will only improve as new techniques are mastered,’ said Blech.
‘The one thing that will hold all this improvement back is the weather. However great a wine producer is, it is impossible to cope with some of the conditions encountered in 2007 and 2008 – in stark contrast to the great 2006 vintage which was excellent in both quality and quantity.’
This has not stopped ongoing rumours of foreign investment, however, as the wines have begun to fare well in blind tastings, win awards and appear at State banquets.
Professor Richard Selley of Imperial College London even has suggested that by 2080, it will be warm enough to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the north of England.
English Wine Week this year runs from 23 to 31 May.
Written by Maggie Rosen