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Winter Frost at Hargrove Estate Vineyard, Shropshire





1st April 2012Annual General meetingHothorpe Hall, Northants
16th June 2012Best of British Food & Wine (See notes below)Hothorpe Hall, Northants
18th & 19th August 2011MVA CompetitionRenishaw Hall Derbyshire
25th NovemberGeneral meetingDa Vinci Restaurant, 1 Anchor Parade, Aldridge, West Midlands


ASTLEY VINEYARD wins the 2012 Wine of the Year with a Gold medal rated Sweet wine

There were Three golds at the August competition at Renishaw Hall, with Fleurfields and Halfpenny Green winning the other 2 for their sparkling wines. The new MILLINGTON TROPHY for the best Winemaker/grower went to Clive Vickers of Halfpenny Green.
Full Trophy winers are listed on the link below. Click the link for trophies
Click the link for medals


HOTHORPE HALL, site of the very successful 2012 AGM, is featuring a BEST OF BRITISH Food & Wine event at THEDDINGWORTH, near MARKET HARBOROUGH o the 12th June. This will feature 3 different WELLAND VALLEY wines, one with each course. Tickets at £37.50 from www.hothorpe.co.uk or call 01858-881500

Chris Gallimore 1947-2011

It was with great sadness that we recieved the news of the death of our Chairman, Chris Gallimore in June. Chris had led the association with geat enthusiasm for the last 2 years, and had been recently re-elected for a third year. At the funeral service in Snitterfield tributes were paid by students who he had taught, by members of the local Sports Club that he had helped to found and run,as well as from his friends world-wide. His vineyard, Welcombe Hills had been developed into one of the premier wine producers of England, and in the 2010 Mercian vineyards Competition, his Bacchus was voted the best wine in show. He was a great example and friend and we shall miss him very much.

Early flowering in the Midlands

Welland Valley, Northants Rondo – 14th June. Rest 27th June
  • Chevelswarde, Leics.
  • Rondo started on 5th June. Solaris had a few flowers open on 9th of June. On 23rd June Regent had some flowers opened and Phoenix had one flower (to my knowledge) open!
  • Habberley, Shropshire
  • On the 29th June, Rondo were well into flowering here, Solaris had started and Phoenix looked as though they might start in a few days if the weather stays warm.
  • Nick Ellison- Northants
  • It's a funny old year, everything is about 2 weeks ahead of where we usually are. No frost damage in May, by the skin of our teeth. Regent 100% caps off, Bacchus and Phoenix about 60%. Strangely (because usually they are first to flower) Ortega about 10%
  • Eglantine, Notts:
  • The first to flower (as usual) was the rootstock Couderc 3309, three weeks earlier than ever before on May 25th.Leon Millott, on June 6th, two weeks early Cascade on 13th,Seyval on 18th, MA, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Regent, on 22nd, one week earlier. This is due to the warmest April on record, more or less normal May, followed by the coldest June for at least 10 years.
    Worksop, Notts- Solaris and Regent started flowering a in mid June and the majority of flowers were washed away. The Siegerrebe and Kanzler started flowering a week later so not all is yet lost if this dry spell continues .In all I would imagine a poor fruit set this year.
  • New Lodge, Northants
  • Bacchus, Seyval and Phoenix were all flowering by the end of June Rushing to complete rubbing off of shoots in new plantation I enlisted some help, so have a witness!. On Saturday 18th June we were working on the Regent, planted in April 2009, I was a bit late getting to them and so many shoots were coming up in the clear plastic spirals, picking off numerous flower buds along the way, some in full flower caps off!. Then to my amazement one vine had actually grown FOUR minature bunches of black grapes, perfectly formed and coloured about 8 to 12 grapes in each bunch..

    June 2011- Sweet wine award for Astley

    Jonty Daniels and Janet Baldwin, custodians of one of the Midlands' oldest vineyards, have won the coveted Stefanovicz Trophy for their 2009 Astley Late Harvest at the UKVA 2011 competition.

    January 2011 - WSET to Julia

    Chester-based wine lecturer and MVA judge JULIA TICKRIDGE has gained her WSET diploma with honours. Julia, who has undertaken study tours of Bordeaux, Champagne, Mosel and Chianti, was presented with her certificate by Hugn Johnson OBE, the veteran wine writer and broadcaster at a recent ceremony at the Guild Hall in London.

    OZ CLARKE ventures into the far North West

    Oz Clark and Hugh Dennis on one of their wine tours and as part of their series visited Mount Pleasant Vineyard this year. The item filmed at Mount Pleasant will be in episode 3 which will be shown on BB2 on the 27th of December at 21.00.

    A Welcombe Triumph
    for Warwickshire

    Warwickshire viticulturalists Chris and Jane Gallimore scooped the top award in the 2010 Wine Challenge at Wroxeter. The 2009 Welcombe Hills Bacchus wine, made for them by Martin Fowke of Three Choirs gained the Attingham Challenge Cup, as well as the Southern area cup.
    In the other categories, Bill and Flora Hulme of Fleurfields Vineyard won the Sparkling Wine award with their Rose Champs d'Amour which sells well in France.The West Mercia champion wine award- the Hinnighan Cup was won by a debut wine from Gerard Wainwright of Hargrove Estate in Shropshire

    Successes for the MVA in the National Competition

    Tony Skuriat's success as a maker of Sweet wines was confirmed when Eglantine North Star took the Wine Guild and the Tom Day trophies in the 2010 UKVA competition. The Mercian Association members also did well in the still wine classes, with 2 silvers and 2 bronzes for at Worcester. The southern area also gained further medals with Astley (1 Silver and 2 Bronze) Three Choirs (5 silvers and 3 bronzes) and Tiltridge (1 Silver and 1 bronze) doing well.

    Use of Agricultural Premises for Wine Making

    This is a topic that crops up at regular intervals, as Planning Officers try to convince viticulturalists that they need planning permission for developing a winery on agricultural land. Refer to Millington v Secretary of State for the Environment for a transcript or talk to David Millington at Wroxeter Roman Vineyard. Matthew Bernstein of Kenton Vineyard commented that
    It’s fairly abstruse stuff, which to a large extent turns on certain technical points, but my understanding is that it has established that a winery which is used to make wine from grapes grown on that holding constitutes agricultural use, This position was accepted by our Local Authority when we built our winery: no change of use was required to turn an existing agricultural building into a winery. The position is probably different if the winery is to make wine for others.
    If you are feeling mischievous, you might want to quote Lord Justice Mantell, who dealt with this in a couple of lines, as follows:
    “I agree. For generations, in Somerset and elsewhere they have been making cider on the farm. To suggest that it is not a farming activity or ancillary to the growing of apples would be an affront to common sense. The Secretary of State accepts that wine making should not receive any different treatment. No doubt he will bear that in mind.”
    Matthew also added a couple of caveats: "Firstly, technically speaking the Court did not decide that this was agricultural use. The Secretary of State had apparently decided the opposite, i.e. that regardless of the facts of the matter, this could not as a matter of law be agricultural use. The case was actually sent for re-determination by the Secretary of State on the basis that as a matter of law this could be agricultural use. It was then for the Secretary of State to decide whether it was. The judges made it pretty clear that they thought that he should find it was agricultural use, and he seems to have done so. However in legal terms this is not so much decisive as very highly suggestive. Regardless of this, it does seem to be the accepted position, and quoting Millington does seem to work."

    New Competition Trophy for Members Choice

    Bill and Linda Hobson of Somerby Vineyard have donated a magnificent trophy for the new 'Members Choice' competition. This will be presented to the winning entry on Competition day- August 22nd.

    Another Gold for North Star

    Eglantine Vineyard's 2006 NORTH STAR- England's answer to Eiswein, has gained a Gold at the Viniales Internationales competition in Paris.Tony Skuriat's latest sweet wine was the only English wine to receive this award.

    Somerby launches website

    Somerby, Lincolnshire's largest vineyard has launched its web site at Anyone thinking of planting a vineyard should look at the videos available on the site which detail the sequence of events in the first year from ground preparation on

    MVA expands ever northwards

    Top South African Chef Pete Gottgens, owner of the prestigeous Ardeonaig Hotel on the south shore of Loch Tay in Scotland, has joined the MVA. In a warm sheltered glen, Pete is growing Orion, Phoenix, Seyval and Bacchus, and took a crop in 2009. He is now expanding up to 2 acres in order to add Scottish wine to the South African wines already served at the hotel.
    Sept 2009

    Press home in on the harvest potential

    Articles in the Birmingham Express & Star, the Independant and the Yorkshire Post focused on the high yield and quality of early picked varieties.Vineyards from Yorkshire and Staffordshire featured, with articles repeated in on-line editions, and a short video of Halfpenny Green's Rondo harvest being made available.Yorkshire Heart Became the fourth commercial Yorkshire vineyard to bring in a crop
    Picking dates can be viewed online

    Aug 2009

    Tony Skuriat wine the first Wine Personality award

    The new Henry Robson cup for Wine Personality of the Year went to Tony Skuriat of Eglatine vineyard. Tony is a founder member of the association and was described as kind, helpful and generous with his time and advice. Many new members have benefitted from his support over the years, and the decision of the award panel wa greeted with acclaim.
    July 2009

    Great starts for Ryedale and Rose Bank

    Two of Mercia's newest vineyards made excellent debuts in the UKVA Wine Challenge 2009. With their first ever wine, Stuart and Elizabeth Smith of Ryedale, the country's most northerly commercial vineyard, gained a Bronze and a Highly Commended. At the same time Rosebank, newest of Worcestershire's 3 commercial vineyards, gained 2 Bronze and one Highly Commended.
    Cups went to Astley and Three Choirs, with the latter's Siegerebbe picking up two. For full results in Mercia see the list

    TV stars

    Yorkshire vineyards are making their mark on TV this year. Following the appearance of Leventhorpe on the Oz Clarke 'Round Britain in a bottle' series, Bec and Ian Sheveling featured in a programme on Holmfirth, the country's highest vineyard.
    For details see Holmfirth's web site

    English Wine Week

    English Wine Week gives the public an opportunity to visit vineyards not normally open to the public, and to taste combinations of Welsh and English wine and food. For locations and suggestions visit Vine, Wine and Dine or the English Wine Producers site for wine combinations and restaurants serving English and Welsh wine.

    Ryedale becomes the third productive Yorkshire Vineyard

    Ryedale Vineyard will introduce its first vintage to the press and invited guests on May 29th, following a small crop in 2008. The wines, a rose and a white, were produced and bottled at the new winery at Westow. Visitors at the open days in English wine week will have a chance to see the new facilities.

    Bottling at Ryedale

    Sir Reresby Sitwell Bt. DL

    It is with great sadness that the Association heard of the death in March 2009 of one of its oldest members. Sir Reresby Sitwell planted vines in 1973 at Renishaw Hall, his ancestral house in Derbyshire. At the time, it was the most northerly vineyard in the UK.(And probably in the world) In the early years, wine was made in the cellars, with the press house on the ground floor, and gravity being used to allow the juice to reach the fermenting vats in the cellar below.
    The vineyard still survives, with new plantings and, in recent years, with the wine being made by Tony Skuriat at Eglantine Vineyard.
    Sir Reresby was the son of Sir Sacheverall Sitwell, and nephew to Dame Edith Sitwell, the poet and writer. Bob Lindo, Chairman of the UKVA wrote recently of Sir Reresby's great kindness and hospitality
    He is succeeded in the baronetcy by his nephew.

    2009 AGM at Buzzards Valley

    The Annual general meeting was held for the first time in Staffordshire, with over 40 members attending. The association voted to approve the actions of the UKVA in their quest for a satisfactory outcome to the current wine naming problems. Basically, these involve the current world trade talks, where products currently trademarked, but containing a Geographical name, will no longer be protected. The UKVA currently has obtained a 2 year derogation to give members time to change names.
    For 2009-10, the officials elected were:
  • Chairman: Chris Gallimore of Welcome Hills
  • Vice-chairman: George Bowden of Leventhorpe
  • Treasurer: Richard Rallings of Morville St Gregory
  • Secretary: Julia Tickridge of Chester

    February snow hits the northern vineyards

  • Ryedale Vineyards, Yorkshire

    Frome Valley Vineyard, Worcs.
    Many vineyards across the north have been hit by the worst winter for a very long time. The main effect has been to delay pruning- though some hardy souls have been out and about!
    Snow at Welcombe Hills, WarwickshireA hardy pruner in Habberley,Shropshire
    See also Winter page
    January 2009

    Increased popularity for Welsh Wine

    A report in the Western Mail suggests that an increasing reliance on using locally-produced food and wine is crucial to helping rural Wales through the recession.The claim comes ahead of the talks to ensure the survival of the service sector in Mid Wales during the economic downturn.
    Sourcing food from local farms and producers is boosting the area’s economy. The Head Chef of the Wynnstay Arms in Machynlleth commented “They love to see local produce on the menu and are prepared to pay for it. We have sold out of our Pinot Noir, from the Penarth Vineyard in Newtown. The local vineyard also has a rose which reminds me of the Provence style and it goes perfectly with sewin or salmon.”

    Top French award for Mercian Viticulturalist

    A prestigious Echevin d'Honneur to a winegrower from Notts is quite something. In 2008, Tony Skuriat has won a gold medal at this year's UK Wine of the Year awards for the Madeline Angevine, produced at his vineyard in Costock.

    National success for Marches Wine Maker

    Martin Fowke, chief wine maker at Three Choirs vineyard in Gloucestershire, has won the UK Winemaker of the Year award at the UKVA competition in June. Martin is best known for bringing out the best in aromatic grape varieties, and his Siegerrebe 2006 wine won the Gore-Browne Trophy for the best wine of the year. as well as the Tom Day trophy for the best Single Varietal wine. Click for
    full results in the Mercian area

    Yorkshire poised for viticultural take-off

    2008 could be the year when a Yorkshire Vineyard Trail becomes a reality. The long-standing northern commercial outpost at Leventhorpe will soon be joined by Summerhouse Farm near Castleford,Ryedale, near Malton and Yorkshire Heart at Green Hammerton. If the weather is kind this year, all three will be expecting to harvest their first crop in Auturm 2008, and by Spring in 2009, there will be 4 Yorkshire vineyards for afficionados to tour.


    Are there enough vines to meet demand in 2008?
    One reportsuggests that there was a massive demand for vines in 2007, probably equal to the last 2 years put together. This could well cause shortages, quite possibly including Acolon, Fruhburgunder, Madeleine, Solaris, Rondo and even Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in some clones and rootstocks. High demand in France and Germany, plus eastern Europe is to blame, but some continental nurseries also have a lower overall stock after the mixed weather of early summer 2007. Responsibility is also placed upon the French, who appear to have dome little grafting in 2007.

    Planting at Yorkshire Heart

    On the 12th/13th of April Yorkshire Heart Vineyard near York will be planting 2 acres of vines, They welcome interested people willing to come along and get their hands dirty and join the fun. Completely voluntary with no pay but everyone is well fed and watered. This could be of interest to any one who is thinking of planting and would like to get some hands on experience.

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