What happened afterwards? - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

In 2007 Chris Hogg of Birmingham-based Beacon Valley Wines was producing 1500 bottles of British wine made with imported grape juice every month. But what became of this Black Country British wine success?

Run from the family-run homebrew supply shop Hamstead Brewing Centre in the Great Barr area of Birmingham, the ready-made Chardonnay and Shiraz wines were added to the range of homebrew beer and cider-making kits Chris was already stocking. Using imported grape juice from as far away as Chile, Beacon Valley Wines' large test kitchens were used to ferment this into an end product that was, at the time, often superior and cheaper than wines available in supermarkets. 

"Wow that seems ages ago now but that could be my age. Yes we stopped brewing a while ago to be honest as I was spending more time on paperwork than actual brewing", reports Chris (now aged 53) from the still successful homebrew business started in 1984 by his parents Robert and Barbara Hogg. "With regulations constantly changing it was the part of the company that we decided to stop."

British wine was a success story at a time when supermarkets weren't able to import enough great-tasting cheap Australian wines to satisfy home demand.

The term 'British' wine is often confused with English wine made with English grown grapes. But British wine is made with imported grape juice that's fermented and bottled in the UK. Still sold in small quantities, British wine has been over-taken with the higher quality home winemaking kits that contain vacuum-sealed grape juice and even their grape skins.

Chris expands, "With home brewing being so popular and trendy unfortunately we have seen many companies jump on the band wagon with poor quality or over priced products. But fortunately they don't last long and once someone tries the incredible products that are available then they don't look back."

"Our own-brand Cellar Supplies kits are our most popular range. We class this as an everyday wine that can be made within 7 -10 days so it is incredibly popular during the summer for barbecues."

Chris would like to see homebrewing promoted more widely to the UK public to emphasise its green credentials. "It has few food miles, reduces waste and reuses equipment time and time again. Plus it's great fun."

Chris doesn't only drink his own-made wines. He loves the Italian red wine Nebbiolo but can't resist telling me that his own-brand WobblyGob Blood Orange Cider chilled straight from the fridge "goes down very well indeed".

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Image supplied by AOP Faugeres

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