Visit to Amber Valley Wines

We had a fantastic evening visit to our local Vineyard at Amber Valley Wines

L ast year we had Barry Lewis as speaker at the meeting on 24th September and he told us about his experiences producing wine from grapes grown in Derbyshire (see David Pipe’s report in the September/October Chatterbox).

He closed his very interesting presentation with an invitation to the members to come along to a special wine tasting evening; tonight was that occasion. A group of fifteen members and friends reported to the vineyard just outside Wessington to be met by Barry and escorted to a converted stable which now houses the bar and a seating area outside where we enjoyed a very pleasant buffet.

While we ate, Barry explained that the area we were in this evening contained a small vineyard which we would visit, an orchard and the hospitality area. There was a much larger vineyard about a mile away which provided the crop for most of the wine; their annual production is currently about 2000 bottles but this should increase as the vines need ten years to reach maturity and produce a good crop.

Barry then took us over to the small vineyard and explained how he and a colleague started the planting in the snow a few years ago; apparently some varieties of grape are quite hardy and provided they flower and set the fruit after the risk of frost in the late spring, they will bear a good yield of grapes. They are fortunate that the hillside is south facing and the damp morning air from the valley helps to protect the plants from frosts.

A number of varieties are grown on a strong root stocks and the fruit bearing shoots are spread out cordon fashion along the miles of wire supported by stout posts. The ground around the root stocks is not weeded as it encourages the shoots to grow upwards and bear fruit.

Returning to the reception area, Barry took us through his orchard which is planted with some cherry trees, pear trees and a selection of apples traditionally native to Derbyshire. In fact, apart from the national collection, this orchard is the only one to contain all the native Derbyshire apples. One of the varieties is called Duke of Devonshire and this allows Barry to make and market a cider called Duke of Devonshire!

We then commenced the wine tasting. Currently they produce two wines, a dry, aromatic white called Millstone and a rosé produced by blending with a white grape yielding a red juice and called Elisa Pink, named after Barry’s daughter. We all tried them and some of the party were so impressed they proceeded to purchase a few bottles for their cellars.

Thanking Barry for his hospitality and David Soul for organising the visit, the party departed home, more cheerful than when they had arrived, thanks to our bacchian experience!

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