A new vintage from the North East’s first urban winery has taken its place alongside some of the world’s best-known labels in a landmark London location.
The Bacchus was picked out by Fortnum & Mason’s expert wine team after a blind tasting of 40 different bottles and is being marketed by the historic high-end retailer as its new signature English wine, while the winery’s founder Elise Lane is currently being profiled on its website.
Laneberg Wine is the UK’s most northerly winery and released its first vintage of white and rosé wines last year, using grapes grown at a vineyard in Leicestershire.
Its 2018 Bacchus won medals at both the Wine GB Awards and the International Wine And Spirits Competition, while the new vintage has just been announced as the winner of a silver medal at the 2020 Wine GB Awards.
The business worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers last year to bring in a £35,000 investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund which was used to secure the grapes for the new vintage from the Poulton Hill Vineyard in Gloucestershire.
It also enabled the firm to recruit wine-making apprentice Liam Steinberg, who has been closely involved with the production of the new vintage.
Laneberg wines are now stocked in a growing range of high-end North East retailers, including Carruthers & Kent in Gosforth, Rehills of Jesmond, Market Hall Wines in Durham and The Corbridge Larder, while they are also on the wine lists of restaurants including The French Quarter and Blackfriars in Newcastle.
Winery founder Elise Lane grew up in Newcastle before moving away 20 years ago to take a chemistry degree at Oxford University, and developed an interest in and knowledge of winemaking in parallel to her successful corporate finance career.
She gained a post-graduate diploma qualification from Plumpton College, the UK’s acknowledged wine-making centre for excellence, and acted as assistant winemaker at the College’s own winery, as well as teaching some of its students.
Elise and her family returned to the North East three years ago, and she decided to put her knowledge to commercial use while also bringing up her two children.
Elise Lane says: “The 2019 Bacchus has been extremely well received by both stockists and consumers and being listed by Fortnum & Mason is a real landmark for the development of the business.
“The grapes we secured for this year’s vintage were absolutely fantastic and we’re proud to be part of the continuing drive towards showing that English wines can compare favourably with those originating in more traditional locations.
“We’re learning all the time about both the production and commercial sides of the business and are continuing to work towards widening the range that we produce to ensure we’re appealing to lots of different types of customers.
“The investment we had from NEL has been vital in supporting the production process for the new Bacchus, as well as helping us to recruit our new apprentice who is learning very quickly about everything that goes into making award-winning wines.”
Mark Wharton, portfolio executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Elise and her team are really putting the North East on the winemaking map, which isn’t something anyone would have expected to see all that long ago, and to see the new Bacchus keeping such esteemed company is extremely impressive.”
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.