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Midcounties Co-op gives boost to English winemakers

Three English vineyards across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire are raising a glass to success after securing a place on the shelves of a major retailer.

The Midcounties Co-operative Food, which operates 228 food stores, is showing its support for local producers by offering a new selection of nine red, white, rosé and sparkling wines produced that are produced by three regional vineyards. They are Brightwell Vineyard in Oxfordshire, Sixteen Ridges Vineyard in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, and Compton Green Vineyard in Gloucestershire.

The new wines are part of the Society’s Best of Our Counties range, which includes the highest quality of food and drink sourced from the county or neighbouring county of each store. They will be available in the Society’s Chipping Norton, Newent, Stourport and Woodstock stores from the end of July.

Winemaker Bob Nielson (pictured), whose Brightwell Vineyards range will be stocked in Chipping Norton store, said, “The rest of the world has known about the quality and variety of English wine for some time, but England is only just beginning to realise what amazing wines we are producing right here. It’s great to see The Midcounties Co-operative support local, boutique products like ours – we’re excited to share our award-winning wines and we are confident that Midcounties customers are going to love them.”

To support the Society’s network-wide focus on local wines, managers from all of The Midcounties Co-operative’s stores will undertake the Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 Award in Wines. This one-day training course will build the managers’ confidence by teaching them about grape varieties, wine production methods, and food pairings, so they can help customers choose the perfect bottle.

Matt Fletcher, direct sourcing manager at The Midcounties Co-operative Food, said: “We ask our customers what kinds of products they’d like us to stock, so we know that high quality, locally made food and drink are popular. That’s why The Midcounties Co-operative is now stocking the new wines and investing in the WSET training course so our managers are able to talk about them with customers.

“The training has been a great conversational tool, which will help our store managers speak confidently about what affects a wine’s flavour – like the grapes, the land, the climate, and the production process – so they can help customers choose which wines will taste better with the food they’re buying.”