Did you ever imagine setting off during your holiday in Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns to visit a Derbyshire vineyard? Or possibly even less likely, that you’d be drinking some very attractive English wines? Or even liking them so much that you bought some to drink at home…?
John and I did all three yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it too! So that’s another thing to put that on your list of possible fun ‘To Dos’ while you are here.We went thanks to a Visit Peak District & Derbyshire invitation to go on a ‘Familiarisation’ vineyard tour at Renishaw Hall, ancient Derbyshire home of the Sitwell family.
We set off on a dull and definitely autumnal day, which had almost become sunny by the time we reached Renishaw, about an hour’s drive from here. We knew we’d have an interesting time, and were very glad at last to be visiting Renishaw. We weren’t too confident about the wine.
At the Ashbourne Show we had bought some “British Wine” from the Derbyshire Wine Company, and had not been impressed. At the time we had not fully appreciated the significance of the fact that term “British” wine merely indicated that it had been assembled in this country, from concentrates from abroad. English wine has been made in the country, from grapes grown and carefully nurtured in this country; the growers and the winemakers have much more control over everything, including of course the quality.
We learnt this and very much more during the course of a fascinating stroll through the Renishaw vineyards as Kieron Atkinson, winemaker and vineyard manager at Renishaw, explained about the cultivation of the vines, the trials and joys, of wasps and thrips rotting the grapes, good weather and bad playing occasional havoc, and – finally – the tender transforming of the grapes into a beautifully fresh and attractive wine, fit for any table.
We tasted three of their wines afterwards – a still white, and a white and a rose sparkling wine. There were lots of appreciative sighs and nods of approval as Kieron took us through the finer points of each, and a queue at the shop afterwards to buy some to take home.We came home with three bottles, all “drinking well now’ so there’s no need to hold back.
John and I both agreed that it was a splendid day out, interesting and informative. What a lot Derbyshire has to offer: We are so lucky to live where we do, with so many interesting places to visit and things to do for all our guests.
Finally, some useful information… Renishaw is a large house, but modest and very appealing in its ‘quietness’ when one is used to its more famous neighbours, Chatsworth, Haddon and Hardwick. The gardens are by all accounts beautiful but we didn’t have time to go round them. The house is still lived in by the Sitwell family – now represented by Alexandra, the daughter of Sir Reresby. It is only open for tours booked in advance for 12 noon or 1.30 on a Friday so it could well be an excellent holiday-extending-trip for people on their way to us or returning home, living north of us. It is out of the question for us as we are usually at our busiest on a Friday afternoon, so we will rely on you for reports! Please!
There are several wine tours arranged each summer; these too have to be booked in advance.