Well what a day! Cold and windy with sharp and sometimes icy rain showers tipping out of a slate grey sky that occasionally managed to get somewhere towards bright. Despite all that East Midlands MEP Emma McClarkin turned up to take a quick tour of our main vineyard at Doehole in Ashover/Brackenfield, joined by Cllr Andrew Lewer, prospective MEP in next May’s election.
Duncan and I explained how we came together to start the business, acquire the land and plant the vines. Despite chattering teeth exacerbated by wind that couldn’t make its mind up about where it should blow from, our guests listened intently and asked questions about the vines. Emma had visited another Derbyshire vineyard months previously so came to us with a good grasp of English vineyards and a longer established but clear and well informed love of wine.
Attempting pictures whilst keeping hair and loose bits of clothing under control was interesting. Twenty minutes in the vineyard saw all of us thoroughly chilled to the bone and eager to retire to The Plough at Brackenfield to have lunch. Anthony and Laura ensured we were well looked after and very well fed with an excellent lunch before Emma, Andrew and I headed up to Renishaw Hall to meet with Kieron to take a tour of the 40+ year old vineyard there.
Kieron Atkinson, Renishaw Hall vineyard tenant and co-owner of the English Wine Project talked to Emma and Andrew about the recent expansion of the vineyards there and about the improving quality of English wines and the place of Derbyshire and the East Midlands in this expanding industry. Emma was keen to listen to how Europe impacts upon the fledgling English wine industry and where she could play a part in ensuring the continuing success of Derbyshire and East Midlands wines. Areas such as alcohol duty, European funding and peer support from well-established vineyards and centres of oenological expertise across Europe were discussed. Even exporting was touched upon.
What was clear from the discussions is that English and East Midlands wines should take their place in the world of quality wines.
Once again we ended up thoroughly chilled so we eventually followed Kieron to the house where we were given a short tour by Jane, Kieron’s wife and the other half of the English Wine Project and PR manager at the Hall. Guided by Jane we saw the key features of this amazing house. Following this we had a coffee and continued our discussions before a parting of the ways with promises to return to taste wines when the vines were greener and the weather warmer. Who could resist that!