Home-grown winners!

(by Peter Richards MW & Susie Barrie MW)
What’s the best way to celebrate winning an award?

It can’t get much better than sipping on some fine English fizz in a beautiful Cornish vineyard.

We are utterly, ridiculously chuffed to have jointly won the Communicators of the Year Trophy from the EWP (English Wine Producers). Here’s a video of us accepting the award – at Camel Valley vineyard in Cornwall with Sam Lindo. (Fine camera-work courtesy of Sam’s dad: the man who established Camel Valley and has done so much for the English wine cause, Bob Lindo – is there no end to the man’s talents?!)

It’s a massive honour, and one that feels very personal given how much we love homegrown wine. Indeed, we keep finding novel ways to get involved with it. As well as extensive research, tasting, writing and filming on the subject, we also have nine English producers exhibiting at Wine Festival Winchester in November, have fought for English wines in recent budgets (including going on Daily Politics on BBC2 to do so) and are now taking on the Surrey Bacchus half marathon around the Denbies wine estate in the North Down hills in September (and yes, there will be English wine at the ‘refreshment stops’ around the course).

Not to mention our ever-growing cellar increasingly stocked with the stuff…

And that’s the most exciting thing about it all. The homegrown wine scene has been completely transformed in the space of a decade, from a somewhat niche cottage industry to an increasingly ambitious, efficient sector producing world-class wine on a regular basis in a variety of styles.


L-R: Sam Lindo, Peter, Susie, Bob Lindo

Sales of sparkling wine made in the UK have more than doubled lately, reaching £6m in 2014 from £2.9m in 2010, according to the ONS. There are now around 500 vineyards operating in England and Wales, and the 2014 vintage was a bumper one, producing 6.3m bottles, up 42% on 2013.

Susie’s recent piece in Decanter magazine on English sparkling wine generated much comment – a sign of the excitement and interest currently being generated by homegrown fizz. Here’s the PDF of the article: Susie’s piece on English fizz in Decanter’s June 2015 issue

But it’s not just about the fizz these days – our local still wines are increasingly delicious too. It was telling that when Peter recommended a Bacchus on Saturday Kitchen recently, the wine went down brilliantly, with show host James Martin commenting on how much the local wines have come on, and chef Nigel Haworth telling us afterwards that not only was he keen to source the wine for his restaurant list but he also wanted to order a case for himself! (A report on this show can be found here.)

It’s been fascinating to witness this transformation from close-up – we have many brilliant vineyards around us in Hampshire, and have been lucky enough to visit many of our top producers recently. (See our blog for recent visits including Exton Park, Wiston, Nyetimber, Chapel Down, Furleigh, Bridge Valley, Langham, Hobdens, Ridgeview, Plumpton, Gusbourne etc).

Doing what we do, being married Masters of Wine and working so closely together, we often disagree. But one thing we do agree on is the quality of English & Welsh wine and the hugely exciting future that now lies before it. We are proud to support such quality local produce and look forward to more to come.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the EWP and UKVA for their nominations and this amazing award, as well as congratulating all the other winners at the UKVA awards (you can read the full list via this link). And thanks to everyone who makes our job so rewarding and fun. Cheers!

Postscript: the Drinks Business very kindly covered the award in this piece and there is also a small feature on the English Wine Producers’ website here.