SWVA Members gathered for a welcome day out from winter pruning to meet friends and colleagues at delightful Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard, at Redhill near Bristol, on 7th March, by kind invitation of Sandy Luck.
Ian Edwards, Chairman, outlined first the recent developments in the organisation of the UKVA, including the creation by retiring UKVA Chair Sam Lindo of the UKVA Management Committee, as an extra resource to drive developments. The major outcome had been the appointment of CEO Barry Lewis and the negotiations towards unity with the marketing organisation of the large producers, English Wine Producers. There is still detail to be sorted out but the merger looks set to go ahead, with Extraordinarly General Meetings of both organisations expected in late spring to consider the proposals.
Jane Awty, a small-vineyard member of the Management Committee and an SWVA member has been serving on the group that has been developing new proposals for the UK national wine competition, and presented details. The new competition will be known as the UK Wine Awards and will be a more consumer-facing event than the old English and Welsh Wine of the Year Competition. It has new sponsors and will have a higher profile, revised classes and a slightly earlier date, to allow results to be published for English Wine Week. Details will be publicised shortly.
Roger Eynon, a former SWVA member and steam rail enthusiast outlined a high profile English Wine Event planned for Midsummer’s Day at Avon Valley Railway’s HQ. Roger invited members to participate, free of charge, in showing and selling their wines. English Wine Producers will be taking a table to showcase award winners in the UK Wine Awards.
After the formal part of the meeting members enjoyed a delicious curry lunch and walked the Aldwick Court Vineyard with vineyard manager Elizabeth Laver, while the committee met to plan for the year’s events.
SWVA members will be gathering for their spring meeting and 2017 AGM at Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard on 7th March this year by kind invitation of Sandy Luck. This is always a popular occasion for producers to escape the rigours of winter pruning and compare notes on progress.
As well as the formal proceedings there will be an update from Sam Lindo of Cornwall's Camel Valley Vineyards, until recently Chairman of our parent organisation, the UK Vineyards Association, on moves towards unity with English Wine Producers, the marketing organisation for the biggest commercial vineyards. Sam was responsible during his tenure as Chair for boosting the capacity of the UKVA to enable it to develop into a more effective trade association for producers, to fit the rising reputation and scale of the English wine industry. This has led indirectly to the current negotiations to become a single organisation.
Another outcome is a new, more consumer orientated, higher profile national annual competition, to be known as the UK Wine Awards, which is starting this year. Results are due in English Wine Week at the end of May. Members will be keen to catch up with the latest news on this as the entry date approaches.
Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard is at Redhill, close to Bristol airport. There are two vineyards, the first was planted in 2008 in approximately two acres of Homefield. Bordering the main drive to the Farmhouse complex, this was laid out with 2000 vines in blocks of Seyval Blanc, Early Pinot Noir, and Bacchus. In 2010, plantings were expanded into Woodlands, the south-westerly facing, hillside field overlooking Aldwick Lane. Grape varieties here include Regent and Solaris, late ripening Pinot Noir, Seyval Blanc, and Bacchus – the 4th most widely grown wine grape in England. Together they total 8,900 vines spread over 9 acres.
Having failed to thrive, the 500 Homefield Bacchus vines were grubbed up and replaced in 2011 with 600 Madeleine Angevine – another ‘classic’ English wine grape.
Aldwick is a wedding venue, and aims to provide its own high quality wine for the enjoyment of its clients and their guests. It has been regularly winning awards since 2013, and in December landed a prestigious Silver Medal in Tranche 1 of the 2017 International Wine Challenge.
Members can find the programme and application forms in the Members Area/Notices and News for Members.
Dorset’s Furleigh and Langham Estates took two trophies apiece.
Furleigh's Bacchus Fumé 2014 won the McNie Trophy for the best oaked wine and the Wine Guild Trophy for the best large production wine (not of the previous year).
Langham’s Classic Cuvée Reserve 2011 won the President's Trophy for the most outstanding small production wine (not 2015) , and the Vintners Trophy for the best sparkling wine.
Camel Valley’s Bacchus Dry 2015 won the Dudley Quirk Trophy for the best 2015 large production wine.
Fenny Castle's Barrel Fermented Ortega 2015 won the Montague Trophy for the best presented wine.
Parva Farm's Dathliad 2013 won the Welsh Wine of the Year Trophy.
There were Golds for Aldwick Court Farm (Mary’s Rose 2015), Camel Valley (Annie’s Anniversary 2013, Bacchus Dry 2015), Castle Brook (Classic Cuvée 2010), Furleigh (Bacchus Dry 2014, Bacchus Fumé 2014), Langham (Classic Cuvée Reserve 2011), Lily Farm (Bacchus 2015), Lyme Bay (Sandbar 2015), Polgoon (Bacchus 2014), Sharpham (Bacchus 2014), Three Choirs (Cellar Door Bacchus 2014).
Silver Medals were thick on the ground too, with 46 to south west wine producers out of 121 awarded. They went to Aldwick Court Farm, Camel Valley (5), Eastcott, Furleigh (3), Knightor (3), Langham (2), Lily Farm, Lovells, Lyme Bay (3), Oatley (3), Parva Farm (2), Sharpham (7), Sherborne Castle (2), Sixteen Ridges (3), Smith & Evans, Sutton Ridge (2), Three Choirs (3), Trevibban Mill (3).
South West vineyards took 30 of the 105 Bronze medals. They went to Aldwick Court Farm, Brick House Vineyard, Camel Valley (4), Eastcott, Furleigh, Lily Farm, Lovells (2), Lyme Bay (2), Parva Farm (2), Polgoon (2), Poulton Hill, Sharpham (3), Sixteen Ridges (2), Sutton Ridge, Three Choirs (2), Trevibban Mill (3), White Castle.
At the South West Vineyards Association Annual Competition, held this year at Knightor Winery near St Austell in Cornwall, Castle Brook Classic Cuvée 2010 won the top gold medal and trophy for the Sparkling White class, narrowly beating other gold medal wines from Camel Valley, Lyme Bay Winery and Sharpham. After a taste-off against gold medal winners from other classes, it was awarded the SWVA Wine of the Year trophy by the team of judges led by Patricia Stefanowicz MW.
Castle Brook had also won this prestigious award in 2014 with their 2009 sparkling wine, Chinn Chinn.
There were 155 wines entered for the competition, all produced by members of the SWVA. They were judged at Knightor on Monday 12th September by a team of seven judges, all qualified in wine assessment and including several experienced international competition judges. They awarded 10 gold medals, 36 silvers and 65 bronzes. The results were announced at a full members meeting and following an excellent awards lunch, the following day, Tuesday 13th September. The judging is pictured left.
Other major trophy winners were:
Non-commercial trophy winners were Westhope Hill for the best non-commercial non-dry white and best non-commercial sparkling white and Northend Vineyard for the best non-commercial red. Tony Griffin of Northen Vineyard won the trophy for the best small-scale winemaker.
The Gillian Pearkes Trophy for the best contribution to the SWVA went to Alina Stankus for her work on the competition.
The judges were Patricia Stefanowicz MW (Chair) who has led the judging for the SWVA competition foir a number of years, Lindsey Oram (WSET Diploima, AWE, IWSC judge), Jemma Mitchell (WSET Diploma and Educator), Tim Johnson (WoEWSA, WSET Diploma and Educator), Ed Adams MW (Wine Importer), Peter Csizmadia-Honigh (international wine judge), Richard Coulson (IWSC judge).
The SWVA team were Alina Stankus (SWVA Competition secretary, overall organisation), Simon Boyce (who prepared the bottles and organized the flights for judging) and Jane Awty (who entered the judges scores). Here (right) are Simon and Alina setting out a class of wines ready for judging, wrapped in foil to ensure anonymity.
Before the awards, UKVA Chair Sam Lindo outlined to members where talks exploring unity with English Wine Producers, the marketing arm of the industry, had reached.
Patricia Stefanowicz reviewed the wines, noting that the medals Included wines from non commercial vineyards and some really impressed the panel. She commended the Reds - many were really successful, the trophy-winner almost gold medal standard and some good silvers. The rosés were really mixed. Balance is crucial in rosés, but there were good golds, silvers and bronzes. Dry whites were subdivided, with eleven in the separate class for the Bacchus grape and all got an award. That reinforces the suitability of the Bacchus grape for this climate. The top Bacchus was a finalist for Wine of the Year. A lot of so2 in the other dry whites, which made tasting difficult, but some were delightful. The oaked whites were interesting, the judges enjoyed them, noting good, judicious use of oak. The medium dry wines were ok, but the medium sweet were glorious. Sparkling wines were superb, the whites stellar, 4 golds were awarded. The rosé sparkling were more mixed, the judges gave 2 golds - beware of too much dosage! Overall, Patricia commented, "SW wines are a constellation shining from the heavens!"
The individual awards were then announced by SWVA Vice Chair Guy Smith and presented by Patricia Stefanowicz with the help of Simon Boyce.
SW producers tour of the Knightor winery; the pre-lunch tasting of the competition wines; lunch in the Knightor restaurant; Sam Lindo speaking in his role as UKVA Chair pictured with Guy Smith, SWVA vice chair; Duncan Schwab of Sharpham Estate receiving the trophy for best dry white from Patricia Stefanowicz; Liz Mumcuoglu of Trevibban Mill receiving the Best Oaked White trophy; Ben Hawker of Three Choirs receiving the Best Non-Dry White trophy; Mark Thorp of Stocklands Vineyard receiving the Best Red Trophy; Sam Lindo of Camel Valley receiving the Best Sparkling Rosé trophy; Tony Griffin of Northend Vineyard receiving the Best Non-Commercial Winemaker trophy and Alina Stankus receiving the trophy for the best contribution to the SWVA.
Monday 20th June saw the 2nd Exeter SWVA Tasting in full swing at a new larger venue, within the Exeter Phoenix Theatre.
Trade and Consumer visitors came along to taste the wines from vineyards of all sizes, representing Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and one from further afield in Herefordshire.
Organised by Hilary Waller and Faye Pratt on behalf of the SWVA, this years event introduced two new vineyards - Carey Valley & Wythall, along with ten from last year: Eastcott, Furleigh, Lily Farm, Lyme Bay, Pebblebed, Polgoon, Redyeates, Sharpham, Sidbury and Torview.
Everyone was delighted with the day and the best way of summing it up came from a member of the Waitrose team who said ‘I honestly didn’t realise there were so many fantastic small producers down here in the South West’.
The event in pictures:
Links to participating vineyards' websites:
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