We had a visit planned to our friend, Janette's for the weekend. A visit we always look forward to as we enjoy a good old chat and visit good restaurants each evening. Normally we also visit the local towns and sample their wares - like Melton Mowbray pies and lots of lovely Stilton, so this time we investigated the possibility of Leicestershire vineyards. There are quite a few in the Midlands as it turns out but at this time of year they are not all open. I contacted Ceri at Walton Brook..
The vineyard has quite a history. It has been farmed by the same family since the 1890's and during the Great War, the fields here were used by the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the RAF, to protect the Midlands from zeppelin attack. The squadron based here was commanded in 1916 by Captain A T Harris - later in the second World War, known as Bomber Harris.
So in 2008, Ceri, Trevor Eggleston's son-in-law (Trevor being the farmer-in-law!), suggested that as part of their diversification, they should try planting vines - his original idea had been to try a couple of vines in his garden so it kind of escalated!
The following year several hundred more were planted: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay - planning for sparkling! There were problems here in the first winter as the field which drops down to the Walton Brook, turned out to be a frost pocket. As Trevor and Ceri told us - it is a steep learning curve and every area is different. Certainly for the more northern vineyards, they are all favouring Solaris.
And great excitement is in the air as they await their soon to be released first sparkling wine - a white and a rosé, the rosé having exclusively used the Pinot Noir grapes and the white using only the Pinot Gris grapes. The sparkling wines in each vineyard we have seen so far are all made using the méthode champenoise, the traditional champagne method but it seems with better results than the French version! We hope to hear from Ceri when this is ready which should be in time for Christmas we all hope!
And so to the tasting! This is always an exciting moment. We tried a little of each of their current wines...Solaris, Seyval Blanc, Bacchus and the Rosé
We had spent a wonderful time with Trevor and Ceri. Ceri was very informative not only about the vines but also with his tasting detail. As he said - in the end it is always a question of taste. Walton Brook wines tasted good to us - so hope we'll be back again soon! Thank you both!