A SMALL test area of 500 vines was planted by Jon Leighton in 1979. The original vineyard was called Thames Valley Vineyards, later shortened to Valley Vineyards. This has now expanded to 25 acres with more than 20,000 vines.
In fact, Valley Vineyards grows the greatest number of grape varieties in England — including Gamay, Gewurztraminer, Ortega, Dornfelder, Reichensteiner, Muller-Thurgau, Regner, Scheurebe, Bacchus, Madeleine Angevine, Schonburger, Wurzer, Ehrenfelser, Pinot Meunier and the classic Champagne varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
There are also several different trellising systems used including some unique to the Estate — the ‘Stanlake Bow’ and the ‘Stanlake Ballerina’, which is a variant of the Smart-Dyson Ballerina, in effect a mid-height Sylvoz system, a system ideal for our long, cool growing season giving the resultant fruit a perfect balance between fruit quality and yield. The careful hand harvesting of the grapes usually starts at the beginning of October. Winemaking takes place within a 17th century Reformation barn which houses one of the most advanced wineries in Britain, capable of handling some 200 tonnes of fruit in any one season.
The fastidious attention to detail in the vineyard continues into the winery where individual fermentations are carefully monitored and controlled by the expert wine-maker. The company also makes wine for many other English vineyards, the success of both their own wine and the wine made for others has led them to become one of the largest contract wine-makers in the county.
A particular speciality is Stanlake Park Sparkling Wine, both white and rosé, made in the traditional method and often preferred in tasting to French Champagne. In addition there is a selection of dry and aromatic white, rosé and red wine including Hinton Grove, Ruscombe, Pinot Blush, Regatta and Kings Fumé.
These wines have won some 50 awards over the past few years often including the coveted Gore-Browne Trophy for best overall English wine. An up-to-date wine list is always available.
Stanlake Park sells not only its own wine, but also interesting wines from other vineyards and a limited range of wines from other countries, where the grape varieties do not grow successful in the UK.