A Shropshire vineyard has created history after winning a second gold medal for a red wine at the world’s most prestigious wine competition.
The Hencote vineyard struck gold with its Mark I 2018 wine at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) – widely regarded as the Olympics of the industry.
The award means the vineyard is the first in the UK to have won gold for two different still red wines, having previously picked up the award for its 2018 Amphora Pinot Noir in 2020.
It also means Shrewsbury-based Hencote – which was established only in 2016 by founders Andy and Dora Stevens – has now won two-thirds of the gold medals awarded to UK still reds in any IWC competition and one-third of the total gold medals awarded to any UK still wines at IWC competitions.
General Manager Mark Stevens said the latest gold medal was a testament to Hencote’s commitment to producing the highest-quality wines in its own unique way.
“We are thrilled to have been awarded a second gold because it is such a positive reflection on our ambitions for the vineyard to develop hand-produced, award-winning, eco-friendly and highly-sophisticated wines.
“Hencote is a relatively small vineyard with just 23,000 vines producing around 30,000 bottles across eight varieties every year, and we were told when we set up that we were too far north to produce high-quality red wines.
“But this award is proof that our Mark I is a genuinely world-class wine and an endorsement of our ambition to establish Hencote on the global stage.”
The gold medal wine, a blend of Pinot Noir, Précoce and Rondo grapes, was Hencote’s star performer at the International Wine Challenge 2021, where it also won a silver and four bronzes for its other offerings.
The results mean that in total Hencote’s 2018 vintages have won a remarkable two golds, a silver and six bronzes at the 2020 and 2021 IWC competitions.
General Manager Charles Stevens said the vineyard – which covers nearly seven hectares – was determined to become known as the best red wine producer in the country.
“We are committed to producing wines of authenticity which reflect the vineyard’s surroundings and are produced in as natural a way as possible.
“From the start we took the decision to plant mainly the classic grape varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, notoriously difficult to grow in the UK, then concentrate on still wine – something the country is not well known for. But we believe that by doing everything the right way and concentrating all the time on quality, we can compete with the best wines in the world.
“Our philosophy of minimum intervention in the vineyard is carried over to the winery where our winemaker Gavin Patterson focuses on allowing the wines to express their natural characteristics.”
Gavin said: “This top recognition helps to reaffirm our efforts in the vineyard and diligence in our winemaking approach. There is no wine from our first vintage of 2018 more deserving of this prestigious award than our red blend Mark I, now starting to show tertiary notes and aging potential which is astonishing from such young vines.”
Mark leads daily vineyard tours around the estate – famous for its stunning views across the Shropshire countryside – and the wines are only available to buy direct from the estate or through its website.
“It’s an important part of ensuring high-quality that we have a direct relationship with our customers and can track exactly where our wines are being consumed,” said Mark.
The estate, which sits on a ridge next to the old riverbed of the River Severn just outside the town centre, is also home to a restaurant, a holiday home and luxury glamping accommodation.