Rondo: Our English red grape

Rondo grape in Radlow Hundred vineyard

In the UK, Pinot Noir reigns supreme when it comes to red grape plantings. Covering approximately 1,114 hectares, it’s planted by many vineyards across the UK. The reason for this popularity? It’s a commonly used grape in English Sparkling Wine production, following in the footsteps of Champagne.

But when we turned to pairing our Herefordshire soil with the perfect red grape, we wanted to take a slightly different path and look to a new chapter of still English wines. This led us to our Rondo grape, which makes up just 61 hectares of grape plantings in the UK currently. And what is a Rondo grape? It’s a hybrid variety first created back in the 1960s in Germany. It would take a further few decades though for the grape to be commercially planted, and to then gain its name of Rondo. 

As a grape, it has an excellent ability to ripen in cooler climates, like in the UK, and has a high resistance to fungi, reducing the need to use fungicides. It was first planted in Ireland, and has since migrated over to England, Sweden and Germany. Alongside its resistance to fungi, it’s also brilliant at fending off winter frost and diseases. Rondo grapes tend to produce full-bodied ruby red wines, and have medium to low acidity levels, and medium to high levels of tannins. Typically then, we’re seeing fruit-forward flavours as a result of Rondo plantings in the UK. 

Our Rondo grapes line our village vineyard, and absorb the changing seasons of Bishop’s Frome, in Herefordshire. The warm English summers fill the softly sweet fruit, and we’ve unearthed hints of vanilla, dark cherries and a damson nose in our special 2022 Rondo Vintage. Notes of dark currants and a hint of pepper lifts the cherry flavour with a gentle oaked edge. 

Our Rondo 2022 red is one of the few single Rondo bottles available from English vineyards today, and it’s a really fruity red wine, perfect for pairing with umami-based dishes and decadent desserts. If you’re a fruity Pinot Noir lover, we’d recommend turning the page to our Rondo, to discover what we think could just be the next big thing in English wine - brilliant juicy reds. 

As a whole, the English red wine market is beginning to grow and develop. A few years ago, it was unimaginable that Champagne could be rivalled on the global stage by English Sparkling Wine. Today, awards are shifting to this new and growing celebratory fizz, and a simultaneous rise in interest in buying local is breathing even more life into the English wine market. 

We’re looking to this next stage now for the category, and believe the question will once again shift from “Is there English red wine?” to “Which English red should I have?” as we explore the truly distinctive wines able to be produced from our unique terroir and cooler climate.