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Lyme Bay sets sights on becoming major UK red wine producer

Published:  30 September, 2020

Lyme Bay Winery (LBW) is gearing up to re-enter the UK red wine market with the aim of becoming one of the largest producers in the country.   

LBW said it will have 30 tonnes of Pinot Noir grapes arriving at the beginning of October [picked from vineyards in Essex], with the Devon-based winery having worked to identify “those few specific sites with microclimates offering the highest ripening potential in the entire country” for the last two years. 

On current estimates, LBW said it aims to make around 15,000 to 20,000 bottles of Pinot Noir from the 2020 harvest.

LBM has not made a red wine since 2016 when it did a small run of 1,400 bottles, which it said sold out “almost immediately”. 

The creation of the 2020 Pinot Noir would make LBW one of the largest red wine producers in the UK, said MD James Lambert.

Red wine production in the UK presents a challenge with ripeness, and thus consistency, due to the climate. However, 2020 had been “an excellent year for the grapes culminating in a final burst of warm, sunny weather since the end of August”, said Lambert.

“Whether the requirement was for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Bacchus, the sites we work with have to offer the potential for producing only the best quality grapes the UK is able to offer.

“But the more ambitious, long-term aim has been to demonstrate the UK’s potential for the as yet elusive goal: consistent, high-quality red wine production,” he added.

“English wine continues to grow in popularity and our aim has always been to grow and evolve also. Wines like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay did not seem like a possibility when English wine was in its infancy, but now, we are playing on the world stage with our still wines.”

The winery is expecting around 270 tonnes of grapes overall (around 250,000 bottles) over the next few weeks for this harvest, with Lambert also pinpointing 2020 as “the year of Chardonnay”.

“Along with the Pinot Noir, this is another grape that has thrived in the summer we have had this year,” he said.  

Expecting a similar quality to 2018, Lambert said: “2018 was unprecedented for English wine, so we are expecting great things for all our wines from this harvest. It’s looking like a classic vintage and everyone at the winery is very excited to be creating these wines.”

In December, Aldi chose LBW to produce an English sparkling wine for its premium ‘Exquisite Collection’, while in October Morrisons launched a still white wine produced exclusively by the winery for the retailer.