WINE

The Vineyard

In May 2009, Waitrose became the first UK retailer to plant its own vineyard. The chalk soils and topography of the Estate make the Waitrose Farm a perfect location for growing the grapes to make a high quality sparkling wine, marketed in our stores as Leckford Estate Brut.

We grow three grape varieties on the farm, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, and these are turned into a sparkling wine by the award-winning winemakers at Ridgeview. The 17,400 vines are tended by one Partner, who also looks after the Leckford orchards, with the help of others during the busy periods of the vine-growing season, particularly winter pruning, leaf plucking in the summer and, of course, the always eagerly-awaited grape harvest in October.

The biggest threat of the season in English vineyards is normally frost but a carefully chosen site, on a fairly steep south-facing slope, helps reduce the risk of frost damage in the Leckford vineyard. Where there is still a significant risk of frost damage to the developing buds in late spring, we will light some candles in the middle of the night to give the vines (and ourselves) some extra protection from the cold.