English Wine Week: Visit a vineyard in Yorkshire

Picture of Yorkshire Heart vineyard showing the vines.

Award-winning and prestigious, English & Welsh Wine is becoming a National treasure.

THE English and Welsh wine industry is the fastest growing agricultural sector in the UK. In 2023 it saw its biggest harvest with 20-22 million bottles produced. This is 50% higher than Britain’s previous record harvest in 2018.

Planting is predicted to rise by 84% by 2032, according to trade association WineGB.

There are now over 900 vineyards in the UK covering 10,000 acres (4000 hectares) from Cornwall, Kent, Sussex to Yorkshire and the Northwest and, even an experimental vineyard in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

If climate change continues, vineyard planting will grow and the UK could become a significant wine producer with more sprouting in the North.

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier and Bacchus, which account for more than 75% of the UK planted area, performed “exceptionally well,” with the average of all vineyards almost reaching 10 tonnes per hectare.

England also climbed up to 9th place in the International Wine Challenge 2024 medal table, taking 13 Golds, 54 Silvers and 58 Bronzes.

All the more reason to raise an English white, rosé or red glass of wine during English Wine Week (June 17-23).

And the great news is… there is still time to visit vineyards in the North.

Yorkshire

Yorkshire currently has 16 vineyards  with nine of them making in excess of 130,000 bottles each year.

Vines have been grown Yorkshire throughout history. The Cistercian monks at Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds had vineyards, although the exact location is unknown.

The Benedictines at St Mary’s Abbey, York, had a well-documented vineyard of around 10 acres at Askham Richard on the outskirts of the city and had been making wine successfully up to the sixteenth century.

In more modern times, it was a former chemistry teacher George Bowden who planted vines on a south facing sunny slope on the outskirts of Leeds in 1985 and, alas, Leventhorpe Vineyard was born. It is still thriving today selling to local shops and restaurants.

There is even a Yorkshire Wine Trail that takes in nine wineries from Leeds, Harrogate, Ripon, York, Malton, Scarborough, Beverley and Sheffield. Click here to find out more.

Leventhorpe Vineyard

Leventhorpe produces a range of wines including dry whites, sparkling and a small amount of red.

Leventhorpe welcomes visitors and is open most days from noon to 3.30pm. If travelling a distance, please telephone/email before your journey.

Yorkshire Heart Vineyards

Between Harrogate and York, in the village of Nun Monkton, Chris and Gillian Spakouskas started to plant vines in 2006 and now have 16 acres (6.5 hectares) of vines and produce a wide range of award-wining wines at their Yorkshire Heart vineyard.

Their varieties include Pinot Noir, Rondo, Solaris, Ortega and Seyval Blanc and they have another 20 acres ripe for planting.

Yorkshire Heart is a hive of activity all year round. With tours, tastings, a wine and fizz festival, camping and glamping, afternoon tea or a picnic.

To celebrate English Wine Week, Yorkshire Heart Vineyard is offering 15% off all wines for the duration of the week (Saturday 15 June until Sunday 23 June). Simply head to their website and use the code englishwineweek15 at checkout.

Picture of Yorkshire Hearth wine being poured into glasses

Three new wines were also launched this week.

Eleanor – Named after the youngest member of the Spakouskas family, this pale-dry rosé is made from a blend of Pinot noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc grapes to create delicious fresh summer fruit flavours.

LFR – A brand-new Light Fruity Red. A modern blend of Pinot Noir (80%), Gamay and Rondo grapes, described as a bright, soft wine that’s full of strawberry, cherry and plum flavours. It’s best served chilled and goes perfectly with grilled meat and cheese.

Solaris Natural Wine – Yorkshire Heart’s first natural wine made from the juice of Solaris grapes which are left to ferment on its own natural yeast, with no added additives. This results in a refreshing wine that offers flavours of pink grapefruit, apples, lime and melons with crisp, intense flavours.

Although Yorkshire Heart wines are on sale in local farm shops and restaurants it is quite likely that you will have to call in to the vineyard to find the whole range.

Visit here for more details.

Ryedale Vineyard

In Westow, between York and Malton, the Fletcher family has been running Ryedale Vineyards since 2016.

Ryedale Vineyards, launched in 2016, is one of the most northerly commercial vineyards in the United Kingdom and is a family run business in North Yorkshire, at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds near to York and Castle Howard.

It was voted one of the 12 best vineyards to visit and tour in England and Wales in 2019 and has won awards for its blush sparkling Dalesman and Yorkshire’s Lad.

All aspects of wine production from pruning to harvesting to pressing, fermenting, bottling and labelling are carried out by hand in their converted cow byre.

As well as expanding the vineyard to around 14,500 vines, they have planted old apple varieties such as Acklam Russet, Dog Snout and Ribston Pippin.

The Ryedale Vineyard Apple Day is a local celebration when volunteers pick the apples to be pressed for cider.

The vineyard offers tours and tastings, picnics and yoga. It also has a B&B where you can stay in luxury farmhouse rooms on the 12-acre site. Visit here  for details.

Laurel Vines

The first planting was back in 2010 on this family run vineyard and winery based in the small hamlet of Aike. It has since expanded from 2,000 vines to the current 15,500 vines.

Aike near Driffield has the same chalk, similar to that found in the Champagne region in France. Laurel Vines makes quality still and sparkling wines.

As the winner of the REYTA (Remarkable, Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable tourism award 2023), Laurel Vines is committed to the vineyard becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

Visitors are important at this vineyard and regular picnics are held throughout the summer, with some extra events for English Wine Week. Visit here for more details.

Little Wold Vineyard

After starting to plant vines in 2012, the vineyard has expanded to 30,000 vines, with other vineyards in Doncaster and Lincolnshire under their management.

Tours, tastings, fish and chip suppers are planned for the summer plus some extra tastings for English Wine Week. Click here for details.

Carlton Towers Vineyard

The vineyard produces a sparkling wine called Duke Miles. The vineyard is open by appointment, or on open days, and can include a tour of the house, brewery, private woodland walks and park. Visit here for more details.

Dunesforde Vineyard

Nestled in the Vale of York, Dunesforde is a four-acre, boutique vineyard established by the Townsend family in 2016.

The land is now home to four grape varieties – Bacchus, Solaris, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Précoce.

In November 2020, they released their collection of limited-edition sparkling wines from the spectacular 2018 harvest.

The 2018 Queen of the North Classic Cuvée was named Best Wine for the Midlands and North and received a silver medal at the Wine GB Awards 2022.

The vineyard has its own wine bar and terrace, offers tours, tastings and a whole host of events. Click here for more details.

Picture of Dunesforde Queen of the North tasting room with bottles and wine glasses.
Queen of the North tasting room at Dunesforde Winery

Found out more about English & Welsh wines on the WineGB English Wine Week website.

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