English Wine Week: Fairmile Vineyard Q&A

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For English Wine Week 2024, we are spotlighting a few of the great vineyards featured in The Vineyards of Britain by Ed Dallimore, to celebrate some of the best vineyards in England!

Today we’re sharing our Q&A with Jan from the Fairmile Vineyard located in Henley-on-Thames! This vineyard was first planted in 2013 and is now home to some fabulous English sparkling wines. The vineyard is open for tours and picnics where visitors are welcome to try their sparkling Rosé and classic Cuvée and learn a little more about the traditional methods behind creating sparkling wine!

 

How did the Fairmile Vineyard come to be?

The arrival of our first child in 2006 made me reappraise my corporate career, and want to spend more time working from home. My commute to work from the front door of the house to the tractor shed is all of 100 metres!

What’s one wine your particularly proud of?

Fairmile Vineyard’s Founder’s Reserve 2015 was launched to celebrate our tenth anniversary of planting the vines. It is essentially the same sparkling white wine that Decanter magazine gave its only ‘Outstanding’ rating in 2020 – but with an additional four years’ lees ageing.

What are some of the obstacles typically faced in a Vineyard?

Most UK vineyard managers complain about the weather. Vines are very susceptible to spring frosts and then fungal attack from a humid climate.

How do you see the British wine industry evolving in the future?

At the moment, sparkling wines are our success story, but climate change will eventually make it possible to make some truly great still wines, even reds. But not in my lifetime!

As a visitor, what can one expect during the tour of the Vineyard?

Stunning views looking down on red kites circling the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, hospitable hosts and amazing fizz.

What are your future plans for the Vineyard?

At the moment, we are able to keep our prices competitive by using a contract winemaker, thus sharing the cost of a winery amongst several vineyards. We are building up a war-chest to plant more vines which will eventually justify the building of our own winery/visitor centre.

Do you have any tips for beginners looking to become more discerning about their wines?

Be adventurous! Move out of your comfort zone by trying unfamiliar grape varieties from unknown producers. Ask a wine merchant to recommend something.

What’s one thing you wish more people knew about British wines?

The French have been highly successful over 400 years in promoting Champagne as the Gold Standard for celebrating success. As a sparkling wine producer, I am bound to encourage people to try alternatives at the same price. You could be in for a very pleasant surprise!

 

Find out more at: https://www.fairmilevineyard.co.uk/

The Vineyards of Britain by Ed Dallimore is available from Waterstones, Blackwells, Litalist and independent bookshops across the UK. If you’re interested in finding more great vineyards, get your copy now!

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