Northants glorious vineyards

English wine is really coming into its own, so it means it’s as good an opportunity as any to learn a little more about vino and celebrate our local wine producers. Yup, you read that right, there are two amazing vineyards right here on our door step in good old Northants.

The gorgeous New Lodge Vineyard in Earls Barton

1/ Priorities please, first let’s raise a glass of English Sparkling Wine to Brit scientist* Christopher Merret, who put the fizz into flat old wine way back in 1662.

2/ The Romans — those suave, sophisticates — loved quaffing a glass or two of Sancerre, feet-up watching some Gladitorial blood-fest. Brutal true, but they did drag us ale-swilling Celts kicking and screaming into the first century by planting vines right up to Lincolnshire.

Brixworth as you’ve probably never imagined it – as a vineyard

3/ Drink local my friends, drink local. Us booze-loving Brits slurp around 816 million bottles of wine annually, only 1% of that is English or Welsh wine.

Fantastic fizz from Fleurfields vineyard

4/ English Sparkling Wine is the new Champagne, it’s official: get this from voice of yoof Vice. Not convinced? Well, sorry but the experts are.  Case in point, after a family holiday in Tuscany Bill Hulme, owner of Fleurfields vineyard decided to bring a little bit of ‘la dolce vita’ home with him. Next up the family planted  a south facing meadow at the top of the hill over looking Pitsford Reservoir. And so it came to pass that Bill and his wife Flora planted the vines over 5 years ago. Fleurfields produce three wines – a still white wine similar to Pouilly Fume(Fleur Fields), A white bubbly similar to Champagne (Champs D ‘Amour) and a Pink Bubby similar to pink Champagne(Champs D’Amour Rose’).  Speaking from experience – they’re all delicious, and you can find Bill at most of Northants fine food festivals this summer.

5/ And talking of champers, did you know that Southern England’s soil — is it pretentious if I say terroir? Just love the semantics of that word — is similar to the Champagne region, especially now we actually have a summer. Get digging, because the same chalk seam runs from Northern France across the Channel to the Home Counties.

Award winning wine from New Lodge Vineyard

6/ Northamptonshire is a hot bed of all things English Wine and you can judge for yourselves. Exhibit A) June’s Towcester food festival (10/11 June)  Exhibit B) Oundle food and drink festival  (24 June). Another (local) brilliant exponent of the art is the award winning New Lodge vineyard, a boutique set-up on a southwest slope looking across the Nene valley and just outside the picturesque village of Earls Barton. Here you’ll find octogenarian owner Joyce Boulos-Hanna and Manger daughter Gabby, tending to each vine by hand, all year round.

7/ To end, a random yet true fact. London’s East End wasn’t always hipsters, high rises and baggy-trousered Nineties boybands.  Yup way back circa 1660, a certain Lady Batten grew grapes on her country estate in erm, Walthamstow producing a “very good” red wine according to Pepys. Puts the term Grand Crew Cru in a totally different light, and Château Walthamstow? Come on, it has a ring.

*OK history pedants, I know this is decades before The Union but saying ‘English’ twice in a sentence sounds shoddy, a’right.

Last year at Muddy Awards 2016 we had a brilliant time with our friends and hosts New lodge Vineyard and we reckon it’s these diamonds hidden away in our gorgeous county that make Northants such a very interesting place to visit and live in.

Muddy Awards 2016 – happy times at New lodge vineyard

Fleurfields vineyard, Hill Farmhouse, Northampton Rd, Brixworth, Northampton NN6 9DQ

New Lodge Vineyard, Northampton Rd, Earls Barton, Northampton NN6 0HF

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Northamptonshire