John raises a glass to growing grapes to make his own wines
FOR the past five years, a vineyard in South Derbyshire has been growing grapes for its own brand of wine.
The owners of Sealwood Cottage, in Linton, planted 4,200 vines in May 2008 not knowing fully what the outcome would be.
John Goodall, the owner of the vineyard, said: "I'd always had an interest in wine and I thought it'd be great to be able to grow it here in Derbyshire.
"I worked in farming all my life so I knew a little bit about soil and the conditions, so we decided to give it a go. It's been a steep learning curve as vines are very different from usual crops.
Bissell's 8910E Aroma Pro is the ultimate in home cleaning giving you a machine that provides outstanding results when not just cleaning carpets but stairs and upholstery too.
Terms: Limited Stock Offer . FREE Delivery to most UK postcodes.
Contact: 01664 491439
Valid until: Tuesday, May 28 2013
"It was a bit of an experiment at first but I knew that we'd got free-draining sandy soil here and that's just what you need. We took a punt."
All 4,200 vines were planted in one day at the Sealwood Lane vineyard with help from a team from Belgium.
Mr Goodall said: "It was done with military precision. All the plants have to be spaced a certain distance apart and in straight lines in all directions."
It took the vines until September 2010 to be ready for their first grape harvest.
The Sealwood Vineyard has five grape varieties: Ortega, Solaris, Madeleine Angevine, which are white varieties and Rondo and Regent, the reds.
Mr Goodall said: "They grow quite quickly but the plants have to mature before they produce the best grapes to turn into wine."
The grapes are picked between mid-September and mid to late October.
The grapes are then sent – usually on the same day as being picked – to be made into wine and to be bottled in Shropshire.
Mr Goodall said: "After being sent to Shropshire, the first bottles appear around May time after the fermentation process.
"The wines are bottled and sent back to us here, where we label and distribute them."
Sealwood Cottage Vineyard supplies the Colvile Arms, in Lullington, and regularly visits local food fairs and farmers' markets, including Belper and Swadlincote, as well as agricultural shows at Calke Abbey.
Mr Goodall said: "I've had orders from people in Sussex who have been up to Derbyshire, tasted it and then wanted more.
"I've had orders from Buxton and Chesterfield, in the north of the county, so we're getting to be known all over the place.
"It's brilliant that we are and that people are coming back for more. It shows that we're doing something right."
But the wet weather the county has experienced this summer means that stocks of grapes have been depleted.
Mr Goodall said: "As you would expect, grapes like a little bit of warmth and not too much wet weather, which it what we had all summer.
"We are about 60% down on what we picked last year and that'll obviously affect how many bottles we'll sell.
"Last year was a good harvest and we got around 2,400 bottles come May. We will have less than that in 2013 but we'll do OK I think."
Mr Goodall runs the vineyard with his wife, Elizabeth. He said: "We're both retired and we set the vineyard up as a little something to keep us busy.
"But it is a lot of work. There's things to do all year round as, in the winter, the vines need to be pruned and kept in good condition.
"But I have great fun tending to it and I love to see – and taste – the finished result."