A proud history
Winemaking in Yorkshire might seem like madness to some. Centuries of fine wine making has generally been restricted to the more Southerly regions of Europe, with 50 degrees Latitude being the accepted limit at which grapes can get enough sunlight to ripen sufficiently. Yorkshire lies on the 54th degree of Latitude. And yet in spite of this, George Bowden and his wife shunned convention by planting a vineyard here in 1985.
George wasn’t just anticipating the effects of global warming on Yorkshire, he was building on a tradition of winemaking in the region stretching back as far as the Roman Empire. Wherever the Romans went they took wine, and settlement meant the introduction of vineyards as far north as Hadrian’s Wall. The production of wine was a source of income for the Cistercian Monks of Kirkstall Abbey, a tradition in the County that carried on until the 16th Century.
To produce fine wine in this region you need a peculiar environment: well drained soils, forcing the vines to dig deep for water, picking up mineral notes on the way; good exposure to the little sun we get; a sheltered, south facing slope, that can trap the warmth of the sun. Only under these conditions can grapes develop enough sugar to create delicately fruited white and sparkling wines that have a complexity that is uniquely Yorkshire.
But there is a reason why we all but stopped producing wine: our environment is much better suited to growing cereals, the economics of the Yorkshire climate meaning you get more booze for your buck with beer.
Yorkshire has a proud brewing heritage, mostly ruined by the mergers and acquisition amongst our biggest brewers of the last few decades. Great brands like Tetley’s of Leeds have been ransacked and removed from our landscape. But fear not, this has left a massive gap in the market for authentic Yorkshire Ales, ably filled by entrepreneurial beer lovers.
One of the most successful of the new breed is Ilkley Brewery, established in 2009, though reflecting the town’s brewing heritage that goes back to 1873. On taste in the shop for Yorkshire Day, Latitude will be showing Ilkley’s award winning range of bottles, with a chance to win the brewery’s sought after flat caps and rugby shirts!
We will also be showcasing some of Yorkshire’s finest beverages at the Kirkstall Deli Market (Sat 28th July, 12-3, Kirkstall Abbey). Join us to sample a Yorkshire Sloe Gin fizz, with the award winning Sloemotion Sloe Gin, from the fields of Barton-le-Willow, North Yorks. We’ll be offering great deals on a massive range of local ales and, of course, opening Leventhorpe’s finest!