Brand new Norfolk vineyard opening this summer
- Credit: Archant
A farm south of Burnham Market has diversified to grow nine varieties of grapes - with wines to try from July onwards, says Charlotte-Smith Jarvis
Anyone walking close to North Creake recently may have felt as though they'd tumbled down a rabbit hole and ended up in the wilds of mid-western France. For stretching out across the landscape, just south of trendy Burnham Market, a vineyard has sprouted, with plans for a grand opening this summer.
Burn Valley Vineyard basks in the sunshine of north Norfolk – a farming stronghold.
The climate and ground conditions in this part of the county are perfect for cultivating grapes, particularly varieties such as Bacchus, which performs spectacularly in the region.
Years of holidaying in France led farmer John Robinson to ask his family 'why don't we open a vineyard?'
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'That was five years ago,' laughs daughter Samantha Ciritci, 'and ever since then it's been go, go, go. We planted the vines three years ago in 2016.'
Any winemaker knows it's a long slog from planting those first seedlings, to cracking open and enjoying the fruits of your labour. Samantha, sister Laura, dad John and other family members have been working tirelessly to get Burn Valley off the ground – and into the bottle. Eleven acres of around 17,000 vines (made up of nine varieties including Bacchus and Solaris) sprawl the estate, and a bumper harvest in last summer's almost tropical heat, has meant tastings are being carried out earlier than they ever expected.
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'We're halfway through getting the winery done,' says Samantha. 'We have a main structure up now and all the electric and tanks are going in. This year we've not been able to make the wine ourselves. We got a grant through the Rural Payments scheme and were waiting on the go-head to build – we couldn't start until a couple of months ago so we took the grapes from the last harvest to other wineries to make for us. Some have gone to Winbirri (in Norfolk), some to Herefordshire and some to Essex!'
The family are pleased with how the wine is tasting, and soon the general public will be able to sample their efforts. Rondo and Regent grapes are being blended, while Solaris, Bacchus and Pinot Noir are likely to be single varieties marketed by Burn Valley, with Samantha adding she thinks Solaris will be the star of the show.
At the grand opening on July 20 the East Anglian Vineyard Association will be attending, before tours and tastings go ahead, with nibbles provided by Laura and her partner, who run a local catering business.
Beyond this, from mid-summer, wines from Burn Valley are set to be sold by Adnams in Holt (possibly Norwich too) and at (hopefully) Satchells in Burnham Market.
Private tastings and tours will take place from June, with dates being finalised for the rest of the summer – what could be more perfect than wine tasting in the glorious Norfolk countryside with the sun beating on your back?
'We're incredibly excited! We can't wait,' adds Samantha. 'Three years seems like a long time for this to come together but now it's crunch time and all systems go. We're really looking forward to getting the product out there and making it the best it can be. Stage two is, in the next couple of year, to add a café as well!'
For tours and tasting dates follow Burn Valley Vineyard on Facebook and Instagram.