Article from the wotton times


When nearly four years ago my neighbour James Roberts decided to plant vines to make his own wine I thought it was a great idea. However, I also thought it was a hairbrained scheme that only someone looking forward to comfortable retirement, and who could afford to try something loony, could possibly consider. I knew that the soils were suitable, and the slope south facing, but I could see no possible resemblance between damp, moody Waterley Bottom and the South of France. Most people would give their eye teeth to spend prolonged periods in Beaune or such like so what possible reason would make a grape want to move here? I was wrong! Last summer while the North Nibley Music Festival pealed out down “The Valley”, tucked away in Waterley Bottom, the “Bottomers” celebrated the tasting of their first locally grown wine since Roman times. James Roberts and Paula hosted a bucolic evening to taste their first crop of white wine, a clear crisp little number, described by a local wine snob as having a “piquant grassy note”. Perched at coloured cocktail tables a group of friends and neighbours sipped the classy nectar with a view over the very vines from which last yearʼs crop had been plucked. They were entertained by a vintage jazz trio with drums, keyboard and double bass whose music was as cool, fruity and distinguished as the wine itself.

This was just the beginning. On a fine Sunday morning this late October, not on the previous day of torrential rain as was planned, the troops gathered again for the picking. This supremely organised event was particularly well attended by dogs, as well as children and wine loving adults. Everyone arrived with their own secateurs; we all set to picking a luxurious crop of grapes at a slightly competitive speed, one each side of the line. At the end of each row we deposited our filled buckets and picked up empty buckets to fill again. A quad bike collection service was operated carrying the laden buckets up to the waiting “grapemobile”. No one was forced to walk up the slope although in the end human power ruled ok and we dispensed with the quad. By one oʼclock well over two tons of grapes were ready to make their way to be pressed. Once again James and Paula had put on suitable refreshments; hot tomato soup, sandwiches, sausages and, of course, a glass or two of last yearʼs wine. It was a jolly neighbourly effort and a great social occasion. We are all looking forward to next yearʼs tasting but the really exciting news is that this yearʼs grapes will not in fact be ready for drinking until 2017; this time James is having a go at making his own sparkling wine.

— Alison Edwards, Wotton Times