Sheffield farm’s wine has a very good year

Volunteers Alison Baggeley, Schani Cave and Sue Queggan  - and Frankie the Shetland pony - toast the charity's success.
Volunteers Alison Baggeley, Schani Cave and Sue Queggan - and Frankie the Shetland pony - toast the charity's success.

A rosé wine which is the only one of its kind produced in the country has won an award.

Steel City Wine is made from grapes grown at Whirlow Hall Farm, and was awarded a bronze medal at the English and Welsh Wine of the Year awards held at the Vintners’ Hall in London.

The drink is only the second vintage from the 86-row vineyard, one of England’s most northern vineyards.

It is run entirely by volunteers and is the first wine in the country produced by a charity.

The vineyard was planted in 2010 on the southerly slopes one of the farm’s highest fields and was the idea of Sheffield businessman and farm neighbour, Hugh Facey, who enlisted support to back the venture.

Mr Facey, chairman of the Gripple company, whose products help to tether the vines, said: “It’s a tremendous achievement to receive this honour in only our second year of producing wine.

“Many people doubted we could produce any wine at the farm, which is 262 metres above sea level. We’ve done it, proving that the north can produce a wine among the best this country has to offer.”

Around 20 volunteers tend the vineyard. Their numbers are swelled for the harvesting of the grapes.

Whirlow Hall Farm is chiefly known for helping children and young people. More than 10,000, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, visit the farm each year to learn about where their food comes from, farming and the countryside.

This year’s winning wine will not be on sale to the public as the crop yielded 1,000 bottles, which is not enough to make it commercially viable. However, the charity will benefit from donations from supporters and friends, ensuring their work continues.

The 2015 national wine competition attracted a record entry - largely down to last year’s warm weather and good flowering. Six judges tasted no fewer than 320 wines.

Steel City Wine is made predominantly from rondo and solaris grape varieties, both of which have their origins in Germany. The judges described the wine as tasting of ‘wild strawberries and lively red fruits that produced a wine of good length’.

The bottle’s label depicts Sheffield’s link with its manufacturing past, featuring grapes and the preserved drop forging hammer on display at the roadside in Brightside.