Blenheim Palace unveils vineyard plan for English wine

Blenheim Palace estate in EnglandAn aerial view of Blenheim Palace and its surroundings.

Blenheim Palace estate said it is seeking an established winery partner to plant a vineyard on 60.7 hectares (150 acres) of prime south-facing land, with a view to producing ‘world-class’, co-branded English wine.

It’s a rare opportunity within the thriving UK vineyard scene, according to property consultancy Knight Frank, which has been appointed to let the parcel of land and described the site as ideal for sparkling wines.

Located in the Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO-listed world heritage site that dates back to the 18th century, and welcomes more than one million visitors per year.  

Blenheim Palace lake

Blenheim Palace and nearby lake. Photo supplied courtesy of Knight Frank.

It is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, the former British wartime leader and prime minister who was also known for his love of Champagne, and has been used as a filming location, including for Harry Potter and James Bond films.

‘Blenheim Palace is one of the most famous and recognisable historic landmarks in all of Britain,’ said Ed Mansel Lewis, head of viticulture at Knight Frank. 

‘This represents an extraordinary opportunity for a top, established winery to join with an elite brand in producing truly distinctive English wines.’

Blenheim Palace vineyard could be planted from 2026

Mansel Lewis added, ‘The Estate’s picturesque setting in the Cotswolds offers ideal growing conditions with cooler temperatures and dry soil that provide huge potential for cultivating premium wine grapes.’

Blenheim Palace estate to get vineyard

Blenheim Palace estate has earmarked 60.7 hectares (150 acres) of prime land for a vineyard. Photo supplied courtesy of Knight Frank.

Land earmarked for vines represents only a small proportion of the 4,856-hectare (12,000-acre) Blenheim estate.

It would be ready for planting from May 2026. Knight Frank said it would take around four-to-five years to get vineyard operations up and running, adding that the estate anticipated a 30-year term for its partnership agreement.

A combination of the Blenheim brand alongside the UK’s rising reputation as a wine-producing nation may be particularly enticing for prospective buyers. 

Roy Cox, managing director, Estates of Blenheim Palace, added that the offer was also a chance to create thriving businesses to support the local economy. 

‘We hope to find a partner who shares our purpose, values, and vision for this opportunity. It’s a chance to create a legacy at such a crucial time for UK rural businesses.’

Knight Frank said applications from wineries of all sizes were being encouraged, with flexible business models including tenancy, joint-venture or share-farming agreements.

Movers and shakers in UK wine

News of the Blenheim plan came less than a month after leading UK producer Chapel Down said a sale of its business is one of several funding options that would be considered as part of a strategic review to ‘drive strong and profitable growth in the long-term’.

It said there was no certainty of any transaction taking place, and added it was ‘on-track to deliver double digit sales growth in 2024 and retains a strong balance sheet’.

The number of UK wineries and vineyards has grown significantly in size in the past decade, and the country has already attracted investment from elsewhere in the wine world.

Champagne Taittinger announced plans to plant vines in Kent in late 2015, in partnership with Hatch Mansfield, for example.

More recently, Freixenet Copestick acquired Bolney Wine Estate in 2022, and last year saw Jackson Family Wines enter the UK vineyard scene.  

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Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/blenheim-palace-unveils-vineyard-plan-for-english-wine-534239/