Tucked away in rural Upper Dunsforth in North Yorkshire and only six miles from the A1M, Dunesforde is a boutique vineyard with 6000 vines established in 2016. It is one of the most northerly commercial vineyards in England and has already received a WineGB award for its wine. However, the history of wine in the area goes back much further than 2016 as only three miles down the road lies the neighbouring village of Aldborough. It is hard to believe now but this quiet and peaceful village was once the administrative capital of Northern Britain during the Roman occupation. As one of the northernmost urban centres of England, sitting in the fertile lowlands of the Vale of York, it is highly likely wine was made in the area at some point during Roman occupation. Tablets, recently discovered at Vindolanda, showed evidence of wine in Aldborough.
Further information on Dunesforde Vineyard is available at: http://www.dunesforde.com
While the vines at Dunesforde were planted in 2016, the idea for it actually came about over a decade earlier. Dunesforde was initially inspired by the vineyards of Tuscany, where James Townsend saw first-hand the skill and passion needed to produce quality wines during his time at Castello di Potentino.
James passed on what he had seen to the rest of the Townsend family, who could also see the ways in which vineyards helped bond the local community, bringing people together through a common goal. Working in harmony with the local environment to create products of exceptional quality and craftsmanship was something we all wanted to be a part of.
English wine had been gaining quite a reputation for some time and after lengthy due diligence, involving visiting vineyards in many parts of the world, we began our search for a site in England.
After looking at many sites all over the country, it seemed like fate was calling when land in the village we'd lived in for over thirty years became available. Despite its northern location, we were encouraged by our experts' report on the Dunesforde site. The slope would help drain away the frosts; the sheltered nature of the site meant it could be a degree or two warmer than surrounding areas - vital this far north; relatively low rainfall during the vines' growing season would make the vines work hard, helping produce more complex flavours in the fruit.
With the benefit of expert advice, we carefully chose the vine varietals and root stocks to match our soil and climate.