Essex vineyards have initiated a bid to trademark the region’s name. The county’s growers are teaming up to create a safeguarded trademark for a 77 sq.mile area, dubbed Crouch Valley. It is hoped that it could eventually be granted European protection. 11 vineyards are currently producing 400 tonnes of fruit in the area. The trademark will restrict those claiming to produce Crouch Valley wine, which over the years has won many industry awards.
“The stereotype ‘The Only Way is Essex’ means that visitors to our vineyards expect to meet a ‘stilettoed, perma-tan’ team. In reality, they discover vineyards located in beautiful rural areas, managed and run by skilled and talented producers,” said Lucy Winward, Operations Manager for New Hall Vineyards, one of the UK’s oldest producers. “Essex is renowned for its high quality grapes. We have been selling to other UK wineries for decades” she said.
Crouch Valley has a consistently mild climate, low rainfall and coastal breezes which protect it from frost. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Bacchus grapes are all thriving. Dale Symons, Chairman of The East Anglian Wines Group and owner of Clayhill Vineyard, believes that Essex will soon be on the international map. “It used to be a family joke about planting olives and oranges on the south-facing slopes of our fields that run down to the River Crouch” he said. “After further struggling to make profits in cereals, in 2006 I decided to plant vines. My family thought I was mad to take such a huge risk, and I probably was. It was only 11 years ago that the English wine industry was very small, still emerging from what was perceived to be a `hobby` industry into a professional business,” he explained,
The scheme is being supported by Beverly Tabbron, who is Master of Wine and a buyer for Hallgarten Druitt and Novum, as well as many of the local district councils.