Wine cultivation in the North dates back to Roman times when Cistercian and Benedictine monks made wine (although to what success remains unclear!). However, the growth in winemaking in colder regions is not just down to global warming.
The development of cold climate vines have made it possible for vineyards in Yorkshire, stretching from the North York Moors to inner city Leeds, to create lighter and delicately flavoured tipples which can hold their own against some of the more iconic wine regions. Location is key, with carefully selected south facing slopes essential and a great deal of patience and expertise.
Here’s our guide to three successful Yorkshire vineyards, each offering visitors the chance to tour, sample and purchase home-grown wine. So why not add a bit of fizz (or red, or rose) to your Yorkshire break?
Holmfirth Vineyard, Woodhouse Farm, Holmbridge, HD9 2QR
Tel: 01484 691861 / www.holmfirthvineyard.com
Located in the picturesque village of Holmfirth where BBC’s Last of the Summer Wine was filmed, this stunning seven-acre vineyard is situated at Woodhouse Farm and contains 7,000 vines, developed to thrive in cooler climates. It specialises in three red grape varieties (Rondo, Regent and Acolon) and two white varieties (Ortega and Solaris).
Guided tours and tastings are available daily at 10.30am and 3pm and why not extend your visit with a meal in its world-class restaurant, offering hearty Yorkshire breakfasts, afternoon tea and an a-la-carte evening menu.
Nora Battys Cottage ref: W41091
Holmfirth, Bronte Country
Leventhorpe Vineyard, Woodlesford, Leeds, LS6 8AF
Tel: 0113 288 9088 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Open to visitors seven days a week (although worth telephoning ahead) this five acre vineyard and winery boasts a string of award-winning wines. Based on the outskirts of Leeds and famous for its white wines, it revives the tradition of wine making in Yorkshire established by the Cistercian monks of Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds and the Benedictines of York. All the wines produced at Leventhorpe are made in the vineyard in which they are grown.
Leventhorpe’s success is due to the excellent site which endows its wines with their unique character. The low altitude, protected south-facing slope with good drainage, warm soils and low rainfall, plus the benefits of a river valley situation, make it a favourable location for winegrowing.
Ryedale Vineyard, Farfield Farm, Westow, York Y060 7LS
Tel: 01653 658507 / www.ryedalevineyards.co.uk
Proclaiming to be the most northerly commercial vineyard in the UK, Ryedale Vineyards has more than 5,000 vines, specialising in Ortega for white wine and Rondo for rosé and red wine. The vineyard has received much critical acclaim and won two medals in the 2015 International Wine Challenge.
A visit here is not just about the wine though, the area is rich in wildlife and endangered species of birds including tree sparrows and barn owls are regularly spotted. For those who prefer a slightly different tipple, sister site Paradise Farm, just two miles away has more than an acre of orchards, producing fresh fruit, juice and cider.
Housemartins Cottage ref: CC222112
Haxby near York, York & Vale of York
English Wine Producers
If you’re interested in learning more about the history, production and awards for English wine, check out www.englishwineproducers.co.uk. Not only does the website have a directory of English wineries, it also has a list of shops and restaurants which stock English wine, so even if you can’t get to a vineyard, you can still enjoy a glass!
Look out for English Wine Week which usually takes place the last week of May, early June (28th May – 5th June 2016). Designed to raise awareness of English wine across the country, there are a wide range of activities taking place across the country to celebrate English Wine Week.
Yorkshire Wine School
Whether you want to feel a bit more informed when picking up a bottle for the weekend or are keen to impress at a dinner party, Yorkshire Wine School offers courses at all levels in Leeds, York, Harrogate and Sheffield. The sessions focus on getting more out of your wine drinking and are a great opportunity to try and learn about new wines, with independent and impartial advice. Visit www.yorkshirewineschool.com to find out more.