Planting vineyards and producing grapes in what is still the world’s coolest vine-growing region has always been difficult. From the days of the early Christian monks to the era of the landscape gardener, when wealthy landowners planted vines, none of these early vineyards were commercial prospects and the quality of the wine produced was such that mainland Europe’s winemakers were never in danger of losing Great Britain’s custom.
Vine-growing in Britain only began in earnest after the Second World War, when Ray Brock conducted his grape-growing experiments and Edward Hyams promoted the idea of wine production in Britain through his books and public talks. These pioneers laid the groundwork for the establishment of vineyards from the 1950s onwards, most producing the German-style white wines popular at the time. However, changing tastes and an influx of quality wines from the New World led, at the end of the twentieth century, to a decline in the area planted to vine.
The revival of the industry began in the early 2000s after Nyetimber’s consistently award-winning sparkling wines inspired many producers to start making Champagne-style wines. The classic Champagne varieties now take up more than 60 per cent of the vineyard area and there are well over 500 commercial wine producers and over 150 wineries in England and Wales. Here Skelton focuses on just 21, through which he paints a complete picture of the country’s wine industry. From small, new entrants onto the scene to the established big boys, he shows a range of approaches - to business, in the field and in the winery. From an industry insider of more than 40 years’ standing The Wines of Great Britain
is an indispensable guide for students, wine enthusiasts and aspiring wine producers.