There’s always a buzz of anticipation around the hotels when the Chefs are getting ready to launch a new English Lakes menu. However, a menu without a wine list is as limiting as a knife without a fork. I dropped in to visit Tony Jackson of Lakeland Vintners to see if he could shed any light on the art, or science, of developing great wine lists to complement our new Spring menus.
Built on a foundation of quality and excellent customer service, Lakeland Vintners is located in the tiny village of Ings, and have been suppliers of wine to the Lake District Hotels and restaurant industry for almost forty years. They are able to offer wines that are not readily available elsewhere by sourcing from smaller producers around the world.
How did you get into the industry?
Tony Jackson, Lakeland Vintners
I’m from a farming family and from a young age developed a strong appreciation for agriculture and the cultivation of land. It was during European holidays with my parents that I got fascinated by wine production, and that led me to do my own research on the different grape varieties and the best soils and climate for producing different types of wine. Over the years, this led very naturally to me setting up Lakeland Vintners and pursuing a life-long career within the wine industry.
What makes a great wine list?
In some wine-producing countries, it might be frowned upon to favour wines from anywhere other than from their own soil. Not so in the United Kingdom. It is only relatively recently that we have begun to produce our own wines, so historically we have looked further afield, first to Europe and then, as travel and transport allowed, to the furthest reaches of the globe. A great wine list draws together the best of all the wine producing countries, and celebrates the character, personality and variety of wine producers around the world.
Tell us about your association with English Lakes
We are two family-run businesses who have worked in close collaboration for over twenty-five years. Together, the Directors and Managers of English Lakes, along with myself, have visited vineyards throughout Europe and further afield. We have seen first-hand the passion and commitment needed to produce the quality vintages that are served to the guests of English Lakes. These are often from smaller producers who supply well balanced wines in smaller quantities, which not available in other retail outlets.
Tony, with English Lakes Directors, David Neale, Douglas Dale and Simon Berry on a trip to Hugel Alsace
How do you go about producing a wine list?
Lakeland Vintners has a strong appreciation of the individual style and character of the five English Lakes family of hotels. This is a great starting point, and I draw on my knowledge of what will complement each hotel.
Then I work closely with English Lakes Operations Director, Douglas Dale, the General Manager of each hotel and the F & B Managers, to shape the wine list around the food offering on the new menu. We always choose from a range of above-average vintages and ensure that we will have continuity of supply and a wide range of tastes to suit every palette. The whole process can take several weeks, but the end result is always something that we are all pleased with, and something that we know will add to the enjoyment of English Lakes’ guests.
Wines at Low Wood Bay
To whet your appetite here is our latest selection of wines served in the Windermere Restaurant at Low Wood Bay.