Freedom of the Press is an urban winery on a hill in the Cotswolds. “That makes no sense” you might say. The original plan was to establish an ‘urban winery’ in Oxford with no vineyards of our own, buying the best grapes from the best sites. More like an ‘in-town’ micro brewery or boutique distillery than what most people think of as a vineyard. So that was the plan – we had a venue selected and everything. That was early Spring 2020. Covid took control of everybody’s lives, and the Oxford venue fell through. But just as it looked like it was curtains for the project we found a new ‘unit’ on a beautiful farm above Minster Lovell in the Cotswolds, 15 miles from Oxford.
A winery without vines is nothing new or unusual. It acknowledges that there are two very different processes in wine production, each requiring different skills and facilities. Grapes have to be tended, grown, nurtured and harvested in the best possible sites. They then have to be transformed into wine: specific equipment and processes have an impact on the final outcome, and while the objective is to let the fruit speak for itself the skills of the winemaker give song to that voice – choosing the vessels, the pressing cycles, the temperatures and other transformative practices. And of course it means that a wine can be made locally, even in parts of the country that are not ideally suited to growing the best vines.
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