Claire @ fromthegrapevine
The Wiltshire wine map
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
The English wine market
The UK is now a premium wine-producing region, with around 500 vineyards in England and Wales covering some 4,500 acres and producing sparkling and still wines. English and Welsh wines have recently been winning many prestigious awards. Why? Well, there are many reasons:
Wine grapes mostly grow between the 30th and the 50th degree of latitude, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The Southern counties of the UK are positioned at above 49.9 degrees north so we are right on the marginal limits of acceptable grape growing, BUT the latitude leads to long daylight hours in the growing season. The climate is temperate with few summer days above 30 °C, which for a fussy grape like pinot noir is perfect. It needs a long time on the vine without too much sun to ripen it too quickly.
2) Climate change
Generally, climate change is a bad thing (polar ice caps melting and all that) but in terms of our wine grape growing ability, it's in our favour. In the Champagne region, grapes are ripening 2 weeks earlier than they did 20 years ago, suggesting that the rise in global temperatures is putting southern England now in the same position as the Champagne region was 20 years ago. It's not a coincidence that French champagne giant, Tattinger, has been buying up land in Kent. Kent is the new Champagne.
3) The geology
The limestone soils (technically chalk) of Sussex, Kent and other portions of southern England are suitable for growing the grapes used to produce sparkling wine, and particularly on south-facing slopes, the climate, at least in recent years, is warm enough. Those same chalk hills of Champagne duck briefly under the Channel and reappear in southern England, giving us a perfect base on which to cultivate our vines.
Get to know your vineyards!
Whilst Kent and the Sussex Downs get the majority of the attention when it comes to English wines, we've counted no fewer that 33 vineyards in Wiltshire, and its immediate surrounding counties. Some of these are just vineyards, growing grapes to send off elsewhere for making into wine. They aren't open to the public and just grow the grapes.
At the other end of the scale we have the vineyards that not only grow the grapes, but turn them into wine on site as well as opening their doors to the public for tours and tastings. Most of the larger concerns have cellar door shops on site where you can buy the wine, and some even have restaurants and accommodation.
We've put together a clickable map showing the local vineyards in relation to Swindon and the surrounding counties. We hope you enjoy exploring the map!
Please note that information may not be up to date, especially in relation to Covid-19: We will revise the information once tours, tastings and cellar door sales return to 'normal'. In the meantime, please check with the vineyard before visiting or purchasing.
Reviews of the larger vineyards
We'll make it our mission to visit some of the pins on the map and give a write up on the blog in due course. It's a hard life, but someone has to do it.