by Barbara Cossins
Most people think we Brits drink wine rather than produce it. Well, how wrong they are!
Over the past decade this has changed dramatically and here down in the south of England we are making and producing world class bubbles, winning awards and beating major champagne houses in competitions across the globe. We are also making white, red and rosé wines, some very good ones, in fact, right here in Dorset.
A wine can only be called ‘English’ if it is made with grapes grown in England; ‘British’ wine can be made from grapes grown elsewhere if the juice is fermented and bottled in the UK. The Love Local Trust Local label is all about highlighting these important facts, so always read the labels.
Down south is a little warmer than elsewhere and with help from global warming our average temperatures are rising – so from Cornwall to Kent we all have similar climates and soil types, and great for growing English wine in Dorset. The fertile soil here is largely made up of clay, chalk and flint, the same as the Champagne region of France. Harvest time for the grapes is late summer to late autumn. Due to the exceptional weather this summer, 2022 should be a bumper year for English sparkling wine.
It was National Red Wine Day on 28 August which got me thinking about all the wonderful wines and vineyards here in the south. Did you know there are eight in Dorset alone – just stop and think when you are out for lunch or dinner and ask if there are any local wines on the menu.
From experience in my own pub-restaurant our customers love the local wine, cider, real ale, gin and other spirits. I know English wines are a little pricey compared to those from other countries but what you get in the supermarkets is mass produced – the English wines are tasty, really good and will be a talking point on the dinner table. They are going to be pricier because labour and production costs in this country are more expensive than in other countries and the number of bottles produced is limited.
Remember, if you buy local it is helping the rural economy here in Dorset, the South-West and throughout England. Soil type and growing conditions are things I keep on about as we all need to know what is produced in our own counties. In Dorset and the south of England we produce some of the finest food and drink. This is food for thought – maybe Britain is becoming the new wine world. Eating and drinking locally helps and supports local businesses.
Just a bit of an update on what is going on on the farm. When writing this two weeks before the New Blackmore Vale goes to print, it is still very dry – we are already having to feed the animals winter food, silage we cut back in May. This is a worry as we haven’t even hit Autumn yet – nothing is growing. There’s lots of seasonal produce on the shelves at the moment, so make sure you are eating fresh and local.
– Barbara Cossins is founder of Love Local Trust Local; www.thelangtonarms.co.uk, www.rawstonfarmbutchery.co.uk www.lovelocaltrustlocalawards.co.uk