Heather Williamson and her partner Richard Baker had always wanted to create a vineyard and produce their own wine so, back in 2016, they followed their dream and set up Foxbury Fields Vineyard in Bromsberrow. Being keen wine drinkers, Wye Life wanted to find out more.
So, how did you start Foxbury Fields Vineyard?
Heather: We started small and planted our first vines in 2016. We always had the vision to grow it as a business that would showcase English wine and prove to people that really good wine can be made in England, and for that matter in Herefordshire.
We have taken time to get the vineyard to where it is currently, and it’s definitely a collaborative venture between us and our family – even our dog Lola gets involved and comes out to inspect the vines! We’re now really looking forward to growing our business further and sharing the many benefits and unique flavours of English-made wines with a much wider audience.
What’s so special about your location?
We love our Herefordshire roots. Our vineyard is nestled at the foot of the Malvern Hills on the Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire border. With south facing slopes and a unique micro-climate, we can successfully grow healthy vines and of course, outstanding grapes ready for transforming into wonderful wine.
It must have been a steep learning curve?
I’ve always had an enthusiasm for plants and sustainability. My family’s business is Wyevale Nurseries, which specialises in producing quality nursery stock for the wholesale market and has been in business for more than 90 years. As joint Chairman with, Simeon, my brother, we are the third generation at the helm. Although it’s very different running a vineyard, my plant and business knowledge has helped Richard and I tremendously. Richard is a dentist during the week too, so it’s been lots to learn for him!
Tell us a bit more about what you produce…
We wanted to carefully select what we produce to make sure it stays a high-quality product that we can be proud of.
We’ve chosen two varieties of grape, the Bacchus and Ortega to create our two small batch wines. Our Bacchus wine is a pale lime-green aromatic dry white wine. It offers complex aromas of elderflower, layered with kiwi, grass and a herbal overlay. Well balanced with length on the palate, this is a classic English Bacchus at 11.5% VOL.
The Ortega wine we produce is a delightfully perfumed medium dry white wine with refreshing lemon and orange aromas. Crisp and deliciously fruity, it is wonderful on its own, as an aperitif or as an ideal accompaniment to fish dishes. Vintages are available at a 11.5% VOL.”
It’s interesting to see that you are concentrating on perfecting just two varieties, but why those ones specifically?
We put a lot of consideration into choosing which would be suitable for us. The Bacchus grape we use was created in 1933 by viticulturalist Peter Morio by crossing Silvaner x Riesling with Muller-Thurgau varieties to create a grape that produces a fine white wine.
Originating in Germany, Bacchus has increasingly been grown in the United Kingdom. The climate being colder means the grapes tend to have increased levels of acidity compared to their German counterparts, giving a new flavour take on a classic German grape by keeping it from becoming too intense or sugary.
The Ortega grape is utilised for white wine. It was created in 1948 by Hans Breider at the Bayerischen Landesanstalt für Wein, Obst-und Gartenbau in Würzburg and was discharged with varietal security in 1981. It is a combination of Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe.
Ortega matures early and is not susceptible to frosty conditions, making it ideal for wine production in the UK. It is regularly used for sweet wines, which are considered to improve with cellaring. Ortega wines often have hints of Muscat and peach, along with a citrus aroma, which produces a crisp and fruity wine.
Do you have any particularly memorable moments so far in your journey?
The whole experience has been unique, certainly a learning process. One of our biggest achievements was winning Silver in the South West Vineyards Association in 2017, which felt amazing as we were only a year into running the business.
This year, we accomplished another Bronze Medal at the WineGB 2021 Awards with our 2020 Bacchus wine, having previously been awarded a Bronze for our Ortega wine in the 2020 awards.
We also enjoy giving tours of our vineyard and offering tasting to visitors keen to learn all about artisan wine making. It’s very rewarding to be able to show our progress from vine to glass and share our passion with others. Although we’ve only managed to have one tour so far this year due to the pandemic, we hope we can offer more this summer and into September.
Who do you hope will enjoy your wine?
We’d like to believe that everyone can, Herefordshire itself is becoming well-known for its wines, not just cider making. It’s great that you can feel that you’re benefitting the environment as you’ve kept the air-miles down by selecting those made within the UK, rather than abroad, and are boosting your local economy by supporting small, independent businesses, including wineries and their stockists.
Where can customers buy your wine?
We sell direct to consumers online via our website www.foxburyfields.co.uk and purchasers can collect their orders from the vineyard by arrangement only.
We also have a number of stockists in the region that offer our wines including: The Shop at Bromsberrow, Hay Wines, Leaf Creative in Huntley, Oakchurch Farm Shop, The Old Railway Line Garden Centre in Brecon, Powys, The Nest in Ledbury, Ross Garden Store, The Wine Shed in Ledbury, and Number 25 Delicatessen in Kington.
Our wines are also available for collection, by arrangement only, from Wyevale Nurseries in Herefordshire.
Are you looking for more outlets?
If any businesses in the area would be interested in stocking and selling our wines direct to the public, we would love to hear from them too. They can get in touch with us by calling 07974 793 367 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Want to know more about this brilliant vineyard?
For further details about Foxbury Fields Vineyard, please call 07974 793 367 or visit www.foxburyfields.co.uk. Alternatively, you can follow the company on Facebook.