ONE of Britain’s most northerly vineyards is branching out after 40 years – by planting a new variety of grapes to produce red wine.
Renishaw Hall’s vineyard, established in 1972, has so far produced only white wine in still and sparkling varieties.
Manager Kieron Atkinson, aged 34, is a former Army officer with the Light Dragoons who moved into wine production three years ago.
He said: “The vineyard is 40 years old this year and there have been two varieties of grapes, seyval blanc and madeleine angevine. But we have just expanded the vineyard this year and have put in a red variety called rondo.”
Kieron says the historic hall’s vineyard has experienced ‘huge growth’ in sales in recent years, buoyed recently by appearances in The Times newspaper and the BBC’s Countryfile show.
As well as rising sales, the fields of vines are experiencing something of a boom in visitors.
“When I started here, we were taking around a dozen people on the tours – now it’s about 30,” said Kieron.
“On each tour, there are people who are finding it fascinating that there is a vineyard in this part of the world – but the wine is fantastic.”
Kieron said the still white wine produced at Renishaw is similar to a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire region of France, with flavours of gooseberry and apple.
But he added: “It is quite a light wine at around 11 per cent. You have to be realistic about what you can achieve with the British climate.”
Renishaw Hall’s wines are on sale at Sheffield off licences, shops and behind the bar at some venues.
Kieron, who runs the English Wine Project to promote home-grown tipples, is helped at the vineyard by James Hines and Roy Marples, who helped to plant the original vines 40 years ago.
Renishaw Hall’s vineyard currently produces 1,000 bottles of sparkling and 2,000 bottles of still wines each year.