Newbie grower to research Bacchus

A new Norfolk vineyard is celebrating a £23,000 grant to carry out research on one of the UK’s most promising grape varieties. Flint Vineyard is a vineyard and winery based in Earsham, South Norfolk. It intends to use advanced and experimental winemaking techniques to produce premium wines with help from a grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.

With the funding, the company will carry out scientific fermentation trials using the Bacchus grape to develop the perfect taste and aroma in the wines produced. Bacchus makes a crisp and aromatic white wine, similar to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and is particularly well-suited to the East Anglian climate.

Winemaker Ben Witchell trained at internationally renowned Plumpton College and went on to hone his craft in France, California and England.

A state-of-the-art winery with its own laboratory will allow this intriguing new winemaker to create a range of exciting wines, which push the boundaries. The vineyard will benefit from the ideal growing conditions of the beautiful Norfolk countryside, which is reported to be the combined driest and sunniest region in England. Flint Vineyard will be open to visitors from 2017.

Ben Witchell, winemaker at Flint Vineyard, said: “We are thrilled to be in position to carry out such exciting trials. The UK is being taken more and more seriously as a cool climate grape growing region and needs research like this to be on an equal footing with other new world countries. The Bacchus grape has huge potential to really transform people’s opinions of English wines and we hope, through this work, to achieve this. It’s all about putting science into the art of winemaking.”

Mark Reeve, chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, said: “Flint Vineyard’s project will progress wine production in the East by using innovative fermenting processes and scientific techniques to create high quality wines. The company will carry out research and trials on the Bacchus Grape to achieve the perfect taste and aroma.”

The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is run by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area.

 

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