Wines and ciders could soon be produced in this region from grapes and apples grown here, if ambitious plans for a winery are approved.
The application to build a production plant in Hambleton, in Rutland, capable of making 12,000 bottles of wine and 5,000 litres of cider a year, has been submitted to Rutland County Council by The Abbey Vineyard Group.
The winery will press, ferment, bottle and label wine and cider from grapes and apples already grown at the Irnham-based company’s vineyards in Preston and Hambleton.
The 20 metre x 12 metre plant will create two additional jobs on top of the six currently employed to work at the two vineyards.
The Old Oak Vineyard, in Preston, which was purchased and planted with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Reichensteiner and Regent grapes in 2006, produced its first harvest in 2010. But until now the grapes have had to be transported to Suffolk to be made into 1,000 bottles a year of rose and white wines.
The company’s owner Philip Kerry said: “It means although we can call it Rutland wine, the label has to specify that it is bottled in Suffolk, which is a shame.”
Encouraged by Rutland’s “very good” soil for growing grapes, in 2009 the company bought a 15-acre plot in Hambleton.
The Lyndon Top Vineyard, on the south shore of Rutland Water, was planted with 4,000 Bacchus and Reichensteiner grape vines and 8,000 cider apple trees.
This year the vines have matured. And thanks to the good summer they are expected to produce the first “meaningful” crop of grapes which will produce some 6,000 bottles of white and sparkling wines. The apples are expected to produce about 1,000 bottles of cider.
With the quantity of grapes - and the number of bottles - set to increase as the vines mature further, the company, which also has vineyards in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, says Rutland wine should be made where it is grown.
Mr Kerry said: “It would be good to be able to say not only that the grapes are grown in Rutland but also that the wine is made and bottled in Rutland.”
The proposed production plant would include fermentation vessels, a wine press, a grape de-stalker, a bottle corking machine and two small bottling and labelling plants.
It would also have similar equipment for making cider as well as a scarifier (for tearing up apples) and storage space for oak barrels.
Wines from the Hambleton vineyard are expected to be ready by March and will be sold in local shops as well as through the company’s website at www.abbeyvineyards.co.uk