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Wickham Vineyards
by
Terry Sullivan

Wickham VineyardWickham Vineyards is on the southwestern part of the South East England Wine Trail. The vineyards were first established in 1984 with the planting of six acres of grapes. The influence of help from German winemakers is evident with grape varietals such as Faber, Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Wurzüer, Dornfelder and Triomphe d’Alsace. Today there are 18 acres of grapes planted on the 40-acre estate including the classic Champagne varietals. Over four thousand cases are produced each year including a special labeled wine for the House of Commons.

We met the new owner, Wilhelm Mead, who is considering which direction to take the winery and vineyard in the future. Possibilities include increasing the production of sparkling wines and increasing the size of the vineyard. A new wine production facility will also be considered. With an established restaurant on the site, these expansions could lead to an exciting future for Wickham Vineyards.

vineyard heaterA visitor can take a self-guided audio narrated tour of the vineyards and winemaking facility. William Maitland Biddulph who supports the winery in many different roles from winemaking to guiding tours led us on a tour. In the vineyards we noticed frost pots. These are used if the temperatures are going to go to a negative two degrees Celsius for a while. The frost pots placed between the rows of grapes are lit. Heat from the frost pots will help warm the area so damage will not occur to the grapevines. We asked about fans and were informed that since the air above the ground was cold, fans would not help protect the grapes since they would blow cold air. The frost pots also do the job of protecting the grapes if needed in the fall.

At the ends of the rows we noticed that roses were planted. This is more for a decorative purpose since there is some evidence that the fungus that attacks roses is different than the fungus that attacks grapes. Planting roses at the end of a row of grapes is traditional, looks nice and, even if a different fungus attacks them, can still predict a potential problem.

 

weepingWhen we visited in late March, grapevines showed signs of coming out of dormancy. The vines were weeping which shows that spring is coming. Tiny drops of liquid formed at the places where the vines were pruned. If you looked closely at the vines you would notice some woody buds, the buds just coming out of dormancy. Later the buds will begin to swell.

 

 

wine tanks at Wickham VineyardThe winery is small and has a collection of Italian- and German-made stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. On the day of our visit the winemaker was topping off the wine that is close to bottling. If Wickham Vineyards expands, a new winery will be built and the present winery will possibly become the new tasting room and store.

The present tasting room is small and mostly taken up by the store that has shelves of Wickham Vineyards wines and wine related supplies, arts and crafts.

 

 

wines at Wickham VineyardWe tasted several of the still wines that Wickham produces. The whites all had a floral bouquet reminiscent of the German grapes. I enjoyed the Special Release Fumé that is made from a blend of Bacchus and Reichensteiner grapes. This wine has a wonderful bouquet with good acid. This wine is also labeled with the House of Commons label and drunk by the members of the House of Commons. We also tried a Rosé and a red wine. The red wine is made from the Triomphe d’Alsace grape, which is a German grape. The grape manages to ripen sufficiently in this climate to produce a red wine that would pair nicely with beef dishes. The white wines and the Rosé are good to drink by themselves or pair with fowl and fish.

 

 

restaurant at Wickham VineyardWe are impressed with Wickham Vineyards as the winery has combined a vineyard, winery, tasting room and restaurant. The commercial aspects of the winery are enhanced by the intimacy of the entire winery. As the fourth winery we visited during our trip in England, Wickham Vineyards was also the easiest to drive to just off of several main roads. A visit to this English winery is well worth your while.

Wickham Vineyard
Botley Road, Shedfield,
Southampton, SO32 2HL


Tel. 01329 834042

 

 


Visit these tour operators tha partner with Wine Trail Traveler.

In Vino Veritas Travel Agency
SmoothRed

In Vino Veritas Travel Agency

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SmoothRed
London, England, United Kingdom

 

     

               

                  

          

 


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