Sunday, 07 August 2022

Rotary Club of Henley Bridge

Rotary Club of Henley Bridge

MEMBERS were delighted to welcome viticulturist Jan Mirkowski, owner of the Fairmile Vineyard in Henley, to give a talk.

Jan and his wife Anthea turned their hobby of home brewing into a successful business growing grapes and making good quality wine.

The couple, who have two daughters, bought a piece of land with a steep, south-facing slope and a house suitable for a young family in 2012.

Over the next few years, they turned the hillside into a vineyard with the help of workers with knowledge of the wine-making process and German machinery.

The vineyard can be seen from Fair Mile.

The soil and climate is very similar to that found in the Champagne region of France.

The first harvest was in 2015 but it was only last year that the grapes were of a size and quality good enough for making wine.

Jan grows Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which can be used to make both rosé and sparkling white wine. The first wine to be sold commercially will be this year with the rosé coming to the market in the spring and the sparkling white in the summer.

In the first year 6,000 bottles will be available in local outlets and via the internet.

Jan and his family wanted to ensure that while they needed to keep rabbits, deer and foxes away from the vines, they also wanted to support the local environment, so they have built boxes for nesting birds and bat boxes.

The bat boxes are in threes around a tree, so that as the seasons change the bats move from one to the other as they don’t like a warm home.

A beekeeper also keeps his hives on the hillside.

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