When John Goodall and his wife Elizabeth moved to Sealwood Cottage in Linton they had big dreams of having their own vineyard. Now, 11 years later they have realised their dream. They run a thriving business gaining widespread attention and may soon even see their award-winning wines on supermarket shelves.
John, 73, has been a fan of fine wines for many years, and after having a penfriend in Germany, he decided it was time to start his own business and try his hand at creating his own classic British wines.
British wines have always been popular in Britain, as opposed to some of the mass produced, cheap wines that come in from overseas. Connoisseurs up and down the country have praised local vineyards for creating quality British wines, something that John has strived to do from day one.
There are around 800 vineyards in England and Wales, catering for the masses and their love of British wines.
While many people may think Britain doesn’t have the best climate for growing grapes, the windy weather and cold winters can actually help the crop, according to John, who previously worked as a farmer.
He said: “The things that help the plants most are the frost in the winter, the wind and the sun. The more frost we get gives the plants a better dormant period, the wind helps to pollinate the plants and the sun helps them grow.”
The couple, who have two children, Charles, 46, and Jane, 42, bought the derelict cottage on Seal Wood Road in 2006, before planting 4,000 vines in May, 2008, with the help of their dedicated family and friends.
John said: “One of my grandsons does a lot for me so he might take it over when I’m older.
“He comes down and gets stuck in with helping me prune, which needs to be done every day.
“There’s also quite a lot of office work, which my daughter Jane helps out with.”
Five different varieties of grape are grown at the vineyard, including red and white grapes; regent and rondo for the red variety and solaris, ortega and madeline angevine for the whites.
When the grapes are ripe, they are taken by John and his team and pressed before being sent to an external winery. There, the wine is created and bottled before being sent back to the cottage ready to be sold.
The wines that come out of the vineyard have proven to be extremely popular, and have even been recognised by top names. John’s wines have won three bronze and a silver medal in the regional and national Vineyard Association awards.
While the wines may have a bigger price tag than foreign wines, John says: “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” Bottles costs around £10.
He has many favourites from the selection of wines offered by the vineyard with the dry and crisp white Duchess and the delicate and fruity rose Celebration coming out on top.
The cottage hosts events, from vineyard tours and wine tasting to regular food and drink markets. Details of the events at the cottage can be found on its website.
A chance to be seen on supermarket shelves
On July 6, the winemaker headed down to Waltham on the Wolds to pitch its product to supermarket giant Morrisons for a chance to be featured on its shelves.
He joined four other food and drink makers from Derbyshire to pitch their products for a chance to win a place on the supermarket’s shelves.
More than 60 local suppliers applied to take part in the regional programme. The best producers were then invited to the event at Waltham Village Hall. Morrisons is on the hunt for local suppliers after research found that customers want to see more food and drink produced ‘just down the road’ from them.
The local businesses are hoping to gain a listing alongside regional products already stocked in the supermarket like Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Bakewell tarts and Lincolnshire sausages.
Development chef at Morrisons, Richard Jones, said: “The region has a long history of great, local food and the producers we’ve seen today have been no exception. After seeing the quality of the food here in Waltham today, we’re keen to put even more food locally on our customers’ plates.”
The suppliers that Morrisons think have what it takes to supply its stores will now be invited to a final round at the supermarket’s head office in Bradford.