Pulling in to the yard at Giffords Hall Vineyard, near Long Melford, Suffolk, for this month’s editor’s visit, see page 18, I was instantly met with an overwhelming reminder at how closely integrated viticulture and winemaking are with the UK’s wider agricultural sector.
The courtyard is lined with open machinery sheds, a beautifully re-clad barn and various traditional stone buildings, and there is an inviting view of lush green fields with grazing sheep through the fence. This English country farm feel not only gives an air of authenticity to the family-run estate, but really does help to remind the wine loving public that there is whole lot more going on behind the scenes in the UK wine industry.
Estates which are heavily investing in their rural visitor attractions, producing impressive feats of modern architecture, no doubt seek to impress, but one cannot help to wonder what impact becoming too removed from the farming aspects has on the overall appreciation of the soil to cellar journey.
Regardless of whether the public appreciate the challenges of growing grapes in such a marginal, unpredictable climate, they are certainly enjoying the fruits of the hard-working industry’s labour with increased eagerness. Talking to producers and members of the trade at this year’s London Wine Fair, see page 32, it is clear that English, and Welsh wines are a must-have listing for any independent wine merchant, restaurant or foodie destination, and with so much of the market, both at home and abroad, left to conquer, there are very few working on the ground who have any concerns over the rumoured issue of glut.
The idea that we are reaching a saturation point has certainly not put existing growers and newcomers off planting, with Wines of Great Britain reporting that over 3 million vines were planted this year, see page 12.
For those planning to plant, already living and working in the industry, and members of the trade looking for new UK wine suppliers, a new industry event has been created; Viti-Culture 2019 will take place on 11 July at Plumpton College. Covering the entire soil to cellar journey, the show will feature a range of exhibitors, see page 44, a packed seminar programme, see page 45, and a tasting of 50 wines, as chosen by monthly columnist Matthew Jukes, see page 52. The Vineyard magazine team and I look forward to seeing you all at this exciting industry gathering.