Everyone of a certain vintage will be familiar with the antics of that much loved trio Compo, Clegg and Foggy, from the long running tv programme ‘Last of the Summer Wine’.
Set in the Pennine town of Holmfirth on the outskirts of Huddersfield, viewers will easily recognise the lush Holme valley, which contains the picturesque twin towns of Holmfirth and Holmbridge.
One thing the daft lads never came across in their home town is a vineyard.
To site one so far north in Yorkshire and at the foot of the Pennines to boot, would have been unthinkable, even for a comedy programme.
Yet, today they would find a thriving, 7 acre sloping site of vines, a wine production facility, a classy restaurant and café and even seven luxury self catering apartments, complete with gym, sauna, Jacuzzi and swim-jet pool.
Sid’s Café eat your heart out.
Enterprising designers Ian and Rebecca Sheveling, saw the property, which was originally a sheep farm, and set about modernising the farmhouse in 2006.
Until 2008 the south facing land lay dormant and commercially unused until the couple decided to investigate whether the land would support vines.
They visited existing UK vineyards and involved a viticulturist expert to provide the knowledge they lacked, as neither had any previous connection with the wine industry.
Armed with the basics, they planted hybrid varieties of grape before settling on successful planting of Solaris, Regent, Seyval and Rondo vines.
Today, annual production is still quite small at 9000 bottles and so their produce will not be found on supermarket shelves.
The owners were keen to have visitor facilities and the on-site wine production building was expanded to include a lovely semi-circular, glass-fronted restaurant and a large function room as their venture’s popularity grew.
Both rooms offer amazing, peaceful views across the valley to the moors beyond, whilst the on-site apartments give guests the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labours, without driving.
Weddings here are extremely popular and the visitor count now amounts to some 20,000 per year.
The restaurant also provides cooked breakfasts and quality lunches which are around the £8 – £15 mark. These looked good too.
A la carte evening meals are available on Friday and Saturday evenings.
We took the opportunity to sample the afternoon tea before the wine tour, and magnificent it was too.
Beautifully presented on a twin-deck, wood and slate A-frame, this turned out to be one of the best afternoon teas we have come across.
The tea came in a large pot and served in Queen Anne rose pattern bone china cups and saucers. One lady at a nearby table was heard to exclaim, “Now that’s a proper pot of tea’.
Savouries included sandwiches of coronation chicken and cheese and pickle,
an open sandwich of salmon and cream cheese, a savoury wrap and liver pate on a crisp, seeded slice. All were garnished with fresh pea-shoots.
The sweet layer comprised of a jam-pot containing brownie and jam, topped with cream, a cocoa rolled chocolate fondant, a square of orange drizzle cake, a brownie square, fresh red grapes and scones with clotted cream and a local strawberry jam which brought a nostalgic tear to the eye.
The vineyard tour lasts around an hour and a half. It includes a walk through the vines, a full explanation of the processes and three tastings of course.
English wine generally does not have the robust flavours of some World wines, rather it is more delicate and bright and they seem to have things just right here.
The three we sampled during the wine tour were refreshing and fragrant.
In the ultimate accolade, one Yorkshireman was heard to say, ‘Eee, that’s quite drinkable that.” From a Yorkshireman, that is high praise indeed.
These wines have won multiple industry awards.
Our guide Dean, was hugely enthusiastic and knowledgeable, very humorous and interestingly informative. He is a great ambassador.
Expansion is difficult on this site and so the owners have taken 40 acres of land at Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. It is already planted with the first year’s vines, some 19,000 of them, and big things are expected here.
I have no doubt that it will become a huge visitor attraction.
Sitting with a coffee at the outdoor tables on the sunlit terrace overlooking the Holme valley afterwards, we reflected on what had been an excellent visit.
You have not heard the last of this particular summer wine.
For further details and directions go to http://www.holmfirthvineyard.com/
Your sat-nav should be set to HD9 2QR