Here we show a snippet into the life as an English Wine Grower.
With the annual English Wine week running from May 26th to June 3rd 2018, we thought we would take the opportunity to visit a local English Wine producer to find out more.
We went to Lovells Vineyard nestled in Malvern Hills, a family run business owned by Cathie and John Rolinson since 2010. It’s a lovely story of how a hobby developed into a business grown out of the determination to prove to friends and family that they could produce the very best wine in Malvern. It hasn’t been plain sailing and there’s been a lot of trial and error but, determined to learn from mistakes, they mustered on and are now selling 12,000 to 15,000 bottles of wine a year.
Cathie says, “Its taken a lot of investment in the grounds in terms of drainage, as grapes simply don’t like too much water, and the installation of a complex trellising system to ensure the grapes receive maximum English sunshine."
Cathie adds "In 2013 we decided to launch the Elgar wine brand. We chose Elgar as he was born less than 15 miles away, he is known for writing Land of Hope and Glory – the song played at the Last night of the Proms (and that echoes our business) – and of course his name is one the UK population all know as he was on the £20 note until 2010."
Cathie highlights, "Instrumental to our growth is our success in local good-quality restaurants, whose customers are as passionate about the wine they drink as they are about the food they consume with additional bottles often purchased. Once tasted, they take the opportunity to visit the vineyard where we offer wine tours and tastings from May to September 3 days a week and this invariably leads to sales. We’ve also gained distribution in local regional speciality food shops and we showcase at local food festivals such as Worcester and The Malvern Three Counties. By far though our biggest customer is M&S, where you will find our wines within about a 40-mile radius. It’s all about 'local is best' with English Wines.”
When asked about what English Wine Week means for them, Cathie adds "By this time of the year the vines are beginning to grow rapidly and it’s a busy time in the vineyard. There’s lots of events and news pieces with features on National and Regional TV and across the Internet too. We display promotional materials in our retail partners, all which goes to help highlight English wines and draws people into buying our products."
At Lovells they have perfected clean, crisp and fruity wines – typical of the English style – dry whites, subtle pinks, sparkling, dessert and an oaked red. When asked about the bottle choice, Cathie confirmed: for the sparkling it’s the popular shape; for the rose it’s a clear bottle to showcase the colour; for the whites a mix of clear and green – the wines that you may lay down would be in darker bottles so that light cannot have a detrimental effect, whereas the clear would be perfect for a fast moving white; finally, red is bottled in green or brown to give the wine a depth of colour and stored to allow time for the tannins to settle before selling.
And when it comes to tasting? We asked Cathie about the new Judge glasses. Traditionally the stems are for holding the glass so as not to affect the temperature of the wine or get marks on the glass and to swirl the wine to open up the flavour by getting some oxygen into it. But in all honesty, she adds "As long as the wine can be swirled to oxidise the wine, we are cool with it” – so she’s really enjoying the move to stemless glasses, which also fit in the dishwasher and don’t topple so easily!
“The Judge glasses add elegance and finesse to the whole wine drinking experience – from the feel of the glass in your hand to the look of the wine in the glass. The earthiness and quirkiness of the stemless glasses add a real modern twist whilst the champagne glasses are a beautiful, traditional flute. We have enjoyed sharing our wines with Judge glasses.” Cathie Rolinson.
So we encourage the wine novices and even the wine connoisseurs to shop local and support your farmers and your community. Take time to enjoy some of the very best wine which is on your doorstep.