Wine strikes gold as East Anglia’s vineyard owners battle it out for top prize

East Anglian Wine of The Year Awards at West Street Vineyard, coggeshall.
Winner of wine of the yea

East Anglian Wine of The Year Awards at West Street Vineyard, coggeshall. Winner of wine of the year with his Winbirri Bacchus 2014, Lee dyer

A vineyard owner struck gold today at a hotly-contested regional wine event.

A panel of judges including two Masters of Wine sampled more than 70 entries at the East Anglian Vineyards Association (EAVA) annual awards event, held at West Street Vineyard in Coggeshall, before choosing their favourite.

The overall winner, Lee Dyer of Winbirri Vineyards near Norwich, said he was “ecstatic and over the moon” after his Bacchus wine triumphed in a strong field. Last year, he took away three trophies, but narrowly missed out on the top spot.

“It’s OK getting the other trophies, but this is the one you really want,” he said. “It shows all your passion and commitment is paying off.”

Lee, who looks after about 25 acres of vines, including 10 acres on his family’s land at Surlingham, only planted his first vines eight years ago. Five years ago, it became a seven-day-a-week full-time job for him. Five members of his family are involved.

“We have invested quite heavily. We have invested about £1million so it’s a long term investment, but the vines are there for 100 years,” he said. “I don’t see it really as work. I get to do my hobby seven days a week and to get to do it with my famly is even better.”

Head judge and Master of Wine Anthony Foster, who has been judging the EAVA awards for the last 30 plus years, said the competition was judged to international standards.

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“The improvement is dramatic. there are a lot of really, really good wines. There are some gaps - we are not there yet with sparkling,” he said. “We score heavily on our Bacchus. Our Bacchus is just eye-watering on a worldwide basis. That’s head and shoulders above anything else.”