It's always great to come across a surprise, and to discover a new addition to the family of vineyards in Shropshire and on the near border. So it was great to meet Jane and Stevie Wilcox from Pattingham Vineyard at the super-busy Much Wenlock Xmas Fayre yesterday.
Jane and Stevie were doing swift business with their brand new 2021 offerings - including a red that Jane says is one of the coming grape varieties set to flourish in the English climate.
The website Victoriana describes the Divico grape like this:
Bred in Switzerland in the late 1990s, and released for planting in 2013, Divico is attracting a lot of attention among UK growers looking for a grape that will produce a full-bodied red wine, reminiscent of a Pinot Noir. A cross between Gamaret (itself a cross between Gamay and Reichensteiner) and Bronner, Divico named for an ancient Gallic chieftain who led his people into battle against Julius Caesar. Naturally resistant to many fungal diseases, including mildew, powdery mildew and grey mould, Divico thrives in the humid UK climate, and is well suited to more northerly climes.
I managed to grab one of the last bottles of 'Rudge Heath 2021' on Pattingham's stall at Much Wenlock, along with a bottle of their Moor Meadow Rosé, a blend of Solaris and Pinot Noir Precoce.
Martin, Jane and Stevie Wilcox bought their land on the edge of the South Staffordshire village of Pattingham, between Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth, in 2016.
The land is served with natural spring water and has free-draining sandy soil which slopes gently south and what started as four acres is now 12, making it one of the more substantial vineyards in the locality. In 2021 they took their first harvest, producing around 30,000 bottles of their Rosé, the Divico and Pinot Noir Precoce reds, plus a Solaris white. They grow other varieties, too, including Seyval Blanc.
Find out more, here.
You can visit their beautiful website, here.
Roy Williams is a former journalist, systems editor and has his name in small letters as the editor of a book about big data. You can see where the wine comes in...