On the left, Astley's PNK sparkling, a blend of Pinot Noir and Kerner, and on the right, their Old Vine Kerner
Something a bit different... Saint Vincent is what Chris Haywood describes as a kind of fermented grape water - here with Madeleine Angevine. It's only 4% ABV and Chris says the guy on the bottle is showing exactly how it should be drunk.
I've been meaning to drop by Astley Vineyard between Stourport-on-Severn and Worcester for a while now. I know it's technically not a Shropshire vineyard, but it's really close and there's no harm in remaining on good terms with the neighbours. So, I finally made it yesterday, just at a key moment in the life of the vineyard this year, when the whole Haywood family (and Otso the dog) were hard at work blending their 2021 wines. Everyone seems to multi-task at the vineyard, which is owned by Tim, and Bev Haywood. They're joined by their son, Chris and his wife Matleena. The Haywood will soon be augmented with a third generation, as Matleena is expecting a baby shortly. Bouncy fur ball Otso, a Finnish Lapphund does a very good meet and greet at the shop door, by the way. By the time I'd driven back home to Shrewsbury, they had posted abut the blending on their Facebook page, so take a look here: https://fb.watch/ch1OMkd3Ee/ On their website at https://astleyvineyard.co.uk, Chris is described as 'tirelessly passionate and enthusiastic' and that came across in spades as he talked me through what remains of Astley's stocks before the new wines are bottled in the next month or so. I was really grateful to him for taking time out from the important work of blending to give me the lowdown. While the family carried on working, I'd was directed across the valley to the vineyard opposite the shop and winery. It's a pretty approach because you drop into a deepish 'singly-dell' cut made by what now looks like a smallish stream to climb the slope at the other side, where the vineyard opens up in front of you. As with a number of our local vineyards (Hencote up and running, Kerry Vale and Colemere shortly) Astley are starting their 2021 tours.
Astley has around 5,000 vines, producing 7,500 bottles of wine in a good season.
What gnarly old vine Kerner looks like... Astley is thought to be the fourth oldest vineyard in the country.