When we took the over the vineyard in 2005, we were viticultural novices! Our predecessors at Paunton Court had established it some 15 years earlier just at the very start of the English wine revival. We carried it on and were soon drawn into a new and fascinating world of vine growing, a young industry and a new way of life. As our experience and knowledge has grown, our family has grown too. From mowing the vineyard to manning the stalls at fairs and showing our visitors round, everyone is finally old enough to pitch in!
The vineyard is tucked into a curve of the River Frome at the head of the valley, which creates a benevolent microclimate for the vines. The sumptuous clay loam of our “terroir”, deposited over the millennia, is the basis of our award-winning wines. At latitude 52 degrees north, we teeter on the very edge of the band at which viticulture is deemed viable – between 30-50 degrees in both hemispheres. Being marginal brings its own benefits and problems! Compared to, say, the south of France, we have plenty of water here in the Welsh/English marches; on the other hand, late frosts are our big challenge!
From the beginning, we have tried to tread as lightly as we can. From dealing with prunings to mulching the rows and how we deal with disease, we have tried to find the way that makes least impact on our environment. We are one of the first small vineyards to sign up to the new Sustainable Wines GB project, which aims to ensure that the whole UK wine world, from vine to bottle, is as sustainable as possible. We prune and harvest by hand; in the winter, the sheep multi-task by both “mowing” the vineyard for us and also fertilising it.
We are trying to do our part across the whole property. We have solar panels; all our heating is biomass; our vegetable garden makes us almost self-sufficient in fruit and veg, and even our Wiltshire Horn flock make the occasional contribution to the freezer! The cider orchard is organic, just not registered; we created a large pond which is a haven for wildlife, and a lot of our land is laid down to permanent pasture and woodland, sequestering a good deal of carbon.
Visit Frome Valley Vineyard
Come and see the vineyard and taste our wines, and see for yourselves how delicious our English wine is. Jeanie or Ian Falconer, the owners, will normally lead the tour and walk you through this most beautiful part of Herefordshire and explain the highs and lows of growing grapes in our climate! Click on the button below.